Right Brain / Left Brain President

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Right Brain/Left Brain President Barack Obama’s Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It Mary Lou Décosterd F OREWORD BY C HRISTOPHER C. S HOEMAKER Contemporary Psychology Chris E. Series Editor . Stout.

. ISBN 978-0-313-38072-3 ( hard copy : alk. 4. Visit www. Mary Lou. Left and right ( Psychology) 3.Copyright 2010 by Mary Lou Décosterd All rights reserved. — (Contemporary psychology) Includes bibliographical references and index.4 — dc22 2010000525 ISBN: 978-0-313-38072-3 EISBN: 978-0-313-38073-0 14 13 12 11 10 1 2 3 4 5 This book is also available on the World Wide Web as an eBook. mechanical. except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. stored in a retrieval system. 2.com for details. electronic. Obama. in any form or by any means.O. p. photocopying. or otherwise. foreword by Christopher C. Shoemaker. cm. Descriptions of public figures are based on publicly available information. recording. Leadership — Psychological aspects. Cerebral dominance.abc-clio. Readers should not regard any and all such information as a substitute for medical advice or prescription.L4D434 2010 158'. Right brain / left brain president : Barack Obama’s uncommon leadership ability and how we can each develop it / Mary Lou Décosterd . BF637. LLC 130 Cremona Drive. I. The book contains information about health and fitness. The author and publisher disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects arising from the application of any health and fitness information contained in this book. or transmitted. Box 1911 Santa Barbara. No part of this publication may be reproduced. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Décosterd. Barack — Psychology. Title. P. paper) — ISBN 978-0-313-38073-0 (ebook ) 1. Praeger An Imprint of ABC-CLIO. LLC ABC-CLIO. without prior permission in writing from the publisher. California 93116-1911 This book is printed on acid-free paper Manufactured in the United States of America Public figures referred to in this book were not interviewed.

with heartfelt appreciation for bringing leadership back into the forefront. . . .To “That One” .

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Experiences.Contents Figures Series Foreword Foreword 1 The Obama Phenomenon Leading with Both Sides of His Brain At First Blush Intelligence Personified From Intellect to Action Passion and Attitude Constructive Intolerance His Human Side Making History The Phenomenon Recapped 2 The Nature/Nurture of Leadership A Life Juxtaposed The Luck of the Draw Influences. and Moments Heritage Recapped Leadership and the Brain A Leadership-Perfect Form xi xiii xv 1 1 4 5 7 9 11 13 15 16 19 19 20 23 33 34 36 .

Obama-Style What He Does and How He Does It Recharging the Energy Battery Savvy 101 Fundamental Awareness Power and Influence Perception as Reality Defining Moments 7 Becoming More Obama-Like From Values to Actions Leadership Must-Haves Your Call to Action Tools of the Trade .viii Contents 3 Right.and Left-Brain Potentials A Leadership Model Right Brain/Left Brain: Counterintuitive A Leader’s Line of SITE The MEGA Mind The Plus Factors Model in Context 41 41 43 45 47 49 50 59 59 64 69 73 77 79 79 83 88 91 95 97 97 98 100 103 105 106 108 110 112 115 115 116 119 125 4 Obama: Leading from the Right? Strategic Intent An Innovative Approach A Transformational Imperative Engaging Underpinnings Noting Breadth and Depth 5 Obama’s Vision Realized Methodical: A Call to Action Expressive Excellence Grounded: Responsible with a “Capitol” R True Assertive Right Brain/Left Brain Summary 6 Obama and the Plus Factors: Sealing the Deal Resilient Energy Positive Thinking.

Contents ix Summary Thoughts Parting Inspirations Acknowledgments Appendix Notes Bibliography Index 132 134 137 139 145 155 159 .

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1 7.1 3.1 7.Figures 3.2 6.2 Guiding Behaviors Sorted by Right.and Left-Brain Ability Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Complete) Energy Model for Traits of RESILIENT Leadership Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Partial) Sample Ratings for Traits of STRATEGIC Leadership 42 51 99 120 123 .

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all of which comprise a leadership how-to. her Right and Left Brain Toolkits. and intuition. Décosterd in her earlier book may wind up being eclipsed by this volume. filled with things such as her Ten-Point Executive Summary. this is in the context of a very enjoyable book. In the case of this project. I have previously noted that Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership is a truly impressive effort—really the first book of its kind that is an amalgam of neuroscience. leadership. I like how she transforms her book into a tool box. either. In some cases. her Tools of the Trade. Now Right Brain/Left Brain President: Barack Obama’s Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It continues where Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership left off. as well as of all presidents. strategy. as she helps us to make our new learning actionable. and human functioning and makes it all understandable and accessible. no president .Series Foreword I feel fortunate to hold the often enviable position of being the Series Editor of Contemporary Psychology for Praeger. Dr. leadership. It is a masterpiece of impressively researched writing blended with her own model of leadership into an understandable synthesis that is highly readable (and enjoyable!)—regardless of your politics. And remember. and forms galore. It gives me a proverbial backstage pass and often giddy first looks at what has become what you are now holding in your hands. the popular Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact (2008). While history will be the final judge of this president. I already have had the very pleasurable experience of working with Dr. The high-water mark reached by Dr. it additionally affords me the chance to meet new authors and get to know them and their work at an intimate level—resulting in deep friendships and moving intellectual experiences. Décosterd in prior consulting gigs and with her in her first book in this series. It is truly a major contribution to the field. conveniently packaged into a book! She doesn’t stop there. Décosterd deconstructs the complexity of politics.

Chris E. and that makes this book historic as well. Obama herein. Stout Kildeer. Contemporary Psychology . Illinois Series Editor.xiv Series Foreword has been so completely researched and considered so early on in a presidency as Mr.

climate change. while at the same time methodical and grounded (left brain). narrow. Across the spectrum of human activity—from government to the private sector—the world needs leaders who are at once strategic and innovative (right brain). one of our nation’s leading experts in leadership psychology. Mary Lou Décosterd. To design and implement such leader-development programs. They are created. we are at the front edge of an era of great challenge and change—when the very nature of the international community and the nation-state are in significant flux. a struggling economy. In the first year of his administration. Obama confronted a breathtaking array of challenges—health care. the world can no longer afford that sort of self-indulgence. nurtured. and grown through structured programs of leader development that share universal components but are tailored to the particular institutions or governments in which individual leaders are to serve. In my experience in both the U. committed. In a broader sense. the single most important determinant of success or failure will be leadership.S. The age of petty. however. . There is too much at stake.Foreword Dr. pragmatic. Regardless of one’s perspectives on Obama’s policies. there can be little doubt that he is an extraordinarily charismatic leader. The demand for visionary. and inspirational leaders has never been higher than it is in these opening decades of the 21st century. great right brain/ left brain leaders are not born. His ability to lead a highly polarized electorate to solutions in all of these areas will be the ultimate measure of his leadership skills. and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. now brings her extraordinary talents and groundbreaking Right Brain/ Left Brain Model to an examination of the leadership style of President Barack Obama in Right Brain/Left Brain President. self-serving. able to excite and galvanize a wide political spectrum — both in the United States and around the world—to rally to his call. and bigoted leaders has long past. jingoistic. In such an environment. Army and the private sector.

Right Brain/Left Brain President is a first-class guide to 21st-century leadership through an up-close look at the man who is at the national power epicenter. thereby establishing a foundation upon which leader-development programs can be fashioned and implemented. Shoemaker. and acts. she has examined his remarkable abilities to harness his leadership potentials—many of which are just now reaching their maturity. Such programs will allow the successor generation to manage their dayto-day issues and challenges with a strategic perspective and to look across their minds to discover untapped potentials.xvi Foreword we must first understand the fundamentals of the psychology and physiology of leadership.S. Décosterd’s seminal research and writings on leadership provide an invaluable point of departure for understanding leadership. Emerging leaders of all political stripes should read this book. digest its lessons. decides. Within that framework. Shoemaker has a PhD in political science and is a graduate of West Point and a retired colonel in the U. PhD Senior Vice President for Strategy L-3 Communications Services Group and MPRI Dr. despite his relative lack of executive experience. He served on the staff of the National Security Council during the administrations of both President Reagan and President Carter. Right Brain/Left Brain President is a significant contribution to an enlightened perspective on leadership and will be one of a series of applications of Dr. Décosterd’s methodology to specific leaders. and then apply them to their own development. Dr. Barack Obama’s leadership skill sets are examined through the prism of Dr. As such. This book then shows how Obama’s unique brand of leadership is the result of his ability to leverage his full brain potential in how he thinks. Décosterd has undertaken a detailed and rigorous analysis of Barack Obama and his rise to political prominence. Dr. . Christopher C. Décosterd’s model that identifies and then applies ten key behaviors to maximum leadership impact. Using her right brain/left brain methodology. he possesses significant right.and left-brain integrated skill sets that enable him to address a complex array of challenges. Army.

begin to reverse the damages done and grow in a new direction? Now. for one thing. We needed a full-spectrum leader. we noticed in Obama a marked departure from Washington politics as usual. savvy. what with the full weight of global economic crisis upon us. Novel strategic outreach maximized the internet to attract targeted demographic groups and the ever-chanted mantra “Yes we can” built and held momentum. . Certainly the existing context shaped the moment’s intensity. How would we ever get on a better track. national election had such far-reaching impact.S. charismatic Harvard-educated African American as their political star. It was Barack Obama who would lead us through the challenges of our time and return our nation to the very ideals upon which it was founded. America chose a young. Something was different about the man and his politics.Chapter 1 The Obama Phenomenon The fact that my 15 minutes of fame has extended a little longer than 15 minutes is somewhat surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife. 2008. who could connect with all people and yet who could stand strong. we needed leadership. Few can recall a time when a U. not more of the same. the war on terror ever intensifying and environmental threats looming. more than ever. or a slight tweak in the status quo. From candidate to president. when Barack Obama was elected the next president of the United States of America. was run like a prudent. We needed a leader with a steady hand and an open mind. Experiencing Obama through rallies and high-profile media appearances further reinforced that this was not typical campaigning. The world was seeing those qualities in Barack Obama. His campaign. hi-tech business. —Barack Obama1 Leading with Both Sides of His Brain The world watched in awe on November 4. someone who led with intellect and vision.

our initial excitement soon turns sour. Expressions like “we are creatures of habit” and “great minds think alike” illustrate our tendencies toward what is known and familiar. Over the years and through their many roles and challenges they hone a leadership approach that nets results. but as a rule—as a dynamic interplay between right.” an indicator of how we unwittingly thwart our brain’s diverse potential. a seemingly natural and effortless flow that made his brand of leadership so powerful. and decisive hand. In essence. savvy. diverse group of top thinkers and functional experts. through a sharing and collaboration of skills enabling the whole to be truly greater than the sum of its parts. we are socialized to what we already know. Obama masterfully modeled the sensitive balance of power needed by an incumbent.S. While we gravitate toward the different.2 Leaders in particular tend to gravitate toward their preferences. regardless of our base intelligence or expertise. able to know the way while recognizing implicit opportunities and threats. a fresh. Most are constricted by preferences. You may have heard it said that we use only a small part of our brains. In the face of unprecedented global crisis. some more right brain in nature. though. After all. an excitement we feel when we are in the company of someone or something different. engaging. few leverage it. firm. why don’t we all think and act this way? While many if not all of us have the capacity for such dual-brain engagement. in President Obama we saw someone who was leading with both sides of his brain—able to act from a set of behaviors. and innovative. fair. We sometimes say that we don’t like to “step out of our comfort zones. fluid. it is often those very preferences that made them successful in the first place. President Obama’s quintessential genuineness combined with his celebrated heritage to excite and uplift the masses. strategic. If this is the way our brains are set up to function.and left-brain behaviors. those who lead from controlled prefer- . this is certainly true. however. some more left brain — and to shift smoothly between apparent brainstyle differences. and decisive. The expression “opposites attract” refers to an emotional pull. behavioral habits that cause us to think and act in a more singular fashion. For most of us. All too often. fair. Today. Put another way. president. Upon closer examination of the Obama phenomenon we note the root of his allure. More to the point. In President Obama we saw an ability to be intuitive.2 Right Brain/Left Brain President Once selected. the president-elect led his transition team. what we noted was that Obama’s brain-style shifts occurred not as an exception. uplifting. we recognize a wide range of behaviors along with a breadth and flexibility in both style and perspective. fluidly through their orientation to the White House. Following the gala the newly sworn in President Obama marked his first weeks in office with a firm. The inauguration was carefully crafted in a way befitting the historic event that it was—the induction of the first African American U. President Obama was leveraging his brain in the manner in which it was set up to function. genuine. In descriptors like prudent. We also experienced someone who was as pragmatic and definitive as he was at relating well to others. masterful.

In the past. Such vulnerability is aptly expressed by one senior vice president interviewed who relayed that never before had he worked harder. like low morale. and the world moving at lightning speed. this book will present the following: • The Obama phenomenon— aspects of Obama’s leadership that captivated so many so quickly as compared to the status quo • An understanding of how the brain is structured for right. Today.The Obama Phenomenon 3 ences may find themselves vulnerable. Some leaders are reaching goals they never thought possible and are being asked yet for more. it is harder for leaders to get to the goal line. organizational. new environmental and social circumstances. New leaders are given more and more responsibility with less and less experience or training and are becoming quickly overwhelmed. More specifically. with intensified profitability challenges.and left-brain leadership behaviors were identified that if accessed. Obama showed a facility beyond leadership as usual. Still others feel ineffectual at addressing escalating people challenges. Obama demonstrated a breadth and depth in leadership ability. and interpersonal behaviors. In my previous book. however.and left-brain leadership engagement • An understanding of how Obama’s background enables him to engage both sides of his brain with such ease and fluidity . So what is happening? Simply put. the rules have changed. Bright. greater workforce complexities. The lucky ones are succeeding but at greater personal cost. capable. Some simply cannot keep up with the rate and pace of change. would enable leaders to better leverage their right and left brain potential and thereby better address the complex issues of today. Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact. and in fact overplaying them. or are holding their own but never really feeling on top of things. being moved out of assignments. well-intentioned leaders are receiving lower performance ratings. and yet felt less successful. it was enough for a solid leader to leverage his or her strengths and for the most part succeed. While his opponents were calling attention to their well-honed strengths (preference leadership). leaders need to act from a more complete range of business. Other leaders are coming into broken situations confident they can turn things around but finding it more difficult than they thought. In a followup to that work.and left-brain thinking. Right Brain /Left Brain President will examine Barack Obama’s broad-based leadership style through the lens of integrated right. The result was that a wider audience believed presidential candidate Obama was the best person to meet the diverse challenges of our time. accomplished more. hardworking. a top ten list of right. In order to succeed in today’s work climate. Today’s leadership vulnerability is evidenced in a number of ways. Obama called on his breadth (multiple leadership behaviors) and depth (nuance traits within a given leadership behavior). The net result is that many of today’s solid leaders are getting the message that they aren’t making it.3 Obama’s ability to extend himself and lead from a wide range of behaviors enabled him to ultimately win the election.

Obama was in fact demonstrating a key leadership strong suit. This quiet strength is one contributor to Obama’s uncommon leadership ability. and one who moves methodically toward a goal. It is how to assure that information comes the leader’s way. the world was facing. Obama was no doubt taking in the host of issues his nation.”4 Obama walks down his proverbial paths assimilating information as he goes. for that matter. an iterative leader. what we notice at first blush. He was leaving no stone unturned as he formulated his assessment. He is progressive. polite and unassuming in demeanor. he was in reflective mode. While the naysayers and pundits reacted to Obama’s reserve. thoughtful in his approach. looking for validations. opportunities. He once said. What specifically are the characteristics that enabled Obama to rise to such heights? Seven dimensions of the Obama phenomenon will be identified. and Obama’s quiet strength enables him to garner that power. eventually. To initially lead from an inconspicuous posture affords a unique view of the other and of that around you. and above all. you’ll make progress. but the appeal was as much about the man as it was about the milestone. its people. We saw a man measured in his words. No direct collaborations were sought. The book is apolitical in intent. questioning his experience and resolve. Obama’s quiet strength is one of not only reflection. He listened. What was it precisely that enabled Obama to captivate so many so quickly? Think about it. beginning with Obama’s vintage quiet strength. problems. and. Such thoughtfulness ensures first and foremost . observed. issues. Information is power.4 Right Brain/Left Brain President • An explanation of ten core leadership behaviors that cull and integrate our full brain ability—the right-brain/left-brain leadership model using President Obama as exemplar • Steps and tools for how you too can become more Obama-like in your leadership approaches —how you can extend your brain’s leadership ability What follows is an interpretation based on publicly available information. It was this initial unobtrusive persona that compelled those around him to speak while he listened. and interconnections. Yes. but also of patience. Obama was no doubt gathering information. To begin we examine the Obama phenomenon. One and a half million people braved the January cold on Inauguration Day 2009 to be a part of Obama’s swearing in. “If you are walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking. Record numbers around the globe tuned in to watch. a case-study of a leader/exemplar as a development tool. it was historic. and began what would be a lengthy discovery process. strategies that are more enlightened. At First Blush When we first came to know Obama we noted a quiet strength. What such a leader uncovers through reflective study informs the base upon which strategies are built. Such is a far better scenario than entering into a situation with one’s mind already made up and getting blindsided.

How quickly a person can grasp new information. and if it can change a country. Being regarded as bright in IQ terms requires demonstration of ability across the intellectual spectrum. He was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. it can change a state. “Mr.”5 The Obama phenomenon began not with a flame. That’s how this thing started.and longterm memory functions. how he went from community organizer to Senator. President Obama embraces learning. Virginia. It is multidimensional. From these unassuming roots a movement took hold and grew in astonishing fashion. presidential candidate. He leverages knowledge to extend an already primed intellect. we see that it is both his intellectual ability along with his intellectual outlook that set him apart. and if it can change a city. and what makes his brand of intellect unique with respect to leadership? He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. how well you reason. from that assured place no goal is insurmountable. though. “Here’s my point. What may be more germane. and if it change a state. It allows for sound conclusions. Intelligence is not a discrete trait. 2009. it can change a city. The actual question was. effective planning. is his attitude about learning coupled with his ability to seek and rapidly assimilate broad-based information. Consider the following example from his first prime-time press conference on February 9. and fertile results. Intelligence (IQ ) tests have numerous scales in order to garner a full view of one’s smarts. and sort through social cues are some of the many IQ dimensions. Intelligence Personified Obama was off and running. It shows you what one voice can do. Virginia. And if a voice can change a room. moving with ease forth and back between scholar and educator functions. Such learners make both great students and exemplary teachers. President. That one voice can change a room. If you think about his tenure in politics. his direction fueled by his own brand of intellect. how well short. A reporter was asking about the president’s plan to arrest the current financial crisis and questioning an aspect of Obama’s direction. So how bright is Obama. problem solve.The Obama Phenomenon 5 that the paths selected are the right ones. it can change a nation. A segment from Obama’s last rally of the 2008 election campaign in Manassas. We would refer to these qualities as thriving on knowledge and being a quick study. Such leaders know all too well that if you start at the appropriate point and move forward. managing each expanded opportunity with impressive role command. Obama has likened his progressive tact to building a house brick by brick. in your opening remarks you talked about that if . We can make assumptions that Obama must possess a more than respectable IQ based on these accomplishments. but with a spark. yet potent beginning. a gentle. Obama was in fact now well past his fifteen minutes of fame and on his way to the journey of a lifetime. it can change the world. and then to president. further captures his step-by-step approach.

and that’s not going to be sustainable. that will put enormous strains on the federal budget as well as the state budgets. While the preceding example shows solid comprehension and decision making. That led to a contraction of credit which in turn meant that businesses couldn’t make payroll or inventories which meant that everybody became uncertain about the future of the economy so people started making decisions accordingly. and in Obama we see much the opposite. more demand for food stamps. it means loosening up credit. concise. Obama’s response showed that he had done his homework.6 Right Brain/Left Brain President your plan works the way you want it to work it will increase consumer spending. but also lay the groundwork for economic growth. in fact the party now is over and so the sequence of how we’re approaching this is as follows: Our immediate job is to stop the downward spiral and that means putting money into consumers’ pockets. and detailed perspective. Well first of all. He put the question into context: how and why the financial crisis began and the resulting snowball effect. Obama also demonstrated another intellectual quality—that of openness. paying down debt first before they start spending money into the economy?” This was Obama’s response. So the most important thing we can do for our budget crisis right now is to make sure the economy doesn’t continue to tank and that’s why passing the economic recovery plan is the right thing we should do even though I recognize that it is expensive. reducing investments. There is nothing that will limit intellectual capacity more than a closed mind. then over time other countries are going to get tired of lending us money and the party’s going to be over. making layoffs which in turn made things worse. a compelling. in essence.6 The president’s reply walked us through the query in professorial style. And that by the way is important even if you are a fiscal conservative because the biggest problem we are going to have with our federal budget is that if we continue a situation where there are no tax revenues because economic growth is plummeting at the same time as we have more demands for unemployment insurance we’ve got more demands for people who have lost their health care. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that consumer spending got us into this mess. but isn’t consumer spending or overspending how we got into this mess and if people get money back into their pockets. do you not want them saving it. We heard. If all we’re doing is spending and we’re not making things. internalized his lessons. His eagerness to consider new possibilities . He then conceptualized the steps to recovery. what we had was a crisis in the financial system. What got us into this mess initially were banks taking exorbitant wild risks with other people’s money based on shaky assets and because of the enormous leverage where they had one dollar’s worth of assets and they were betting thirty dollars on that one dollar. Now you are making a legitimate point that our savings rate has declined and this economy has been driven by consumer spending for a very long time. and come to sound conclusions. it means putting forward investments that not only employ people immediately.

He finds utility where others might instead be dismissive. In fact. perhaps even offensive. it’s insightful. the article noted an impressive start ten days into his presidency. His consideration does not necessarily imply endorsement. Obama has a genuine appreciation for diversity in thought. Obama also possesses an uncanny ability to truly appreciate the different or the unusual. Obama is anything but boundary-less.”7 Some might view this music genre as something they either like or don’t like. reason. and context to build parameters and caveats upon which determinations are ultimately made. George W. who was noted for passing fifteen major bills in three months during his first term as president. describing Obama’s steps as a “burst out of the starting gate. 2009. can he translate his intellect into action? From Intellect to Action On January 22. While some may be uneasy about a man in his position who contemplates with such range.8 On January 29. he extends beyond recognizing differences. but he is willing.” The article went on to list additional day-one actions by the president addressing a range of priorities at home and abroad. to think about something by recognizing a value contained within it. Obama’s intellect has multiple distinct strong suits.The Obama Phenomenon 7 expands his intellectual potential tenfold. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable. nonetheless. Now the question becomes. His thinking moves fluidly from the divergent to the convergent— starting from a wide array of data points and ultimately boiling points down to a sensible conclusion. signing bills and executive orders that countered some of the work of his predecessor.” Other early actions taken by President Obama that were noted in same article included signing into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Considering sizable possibilities to the extent that Obama does shows accelerated right-brain thinking while advanced analytics points to a pronounced left brain at work as well. Reading the following statement that he made once about hip-hop music is a simplistic yet poignant illustration of this point: “The thing about hip-hop today is it’s smart.and left-brain thinking in order to glean the most that a circumstance has to offer. For Obama. Roosevelt. the Canadian Press compared Obama’s action-oriented start to that of Franklin D. for example. He moves seamlessly between right. “In a grinding first full day as president. Bush. sending his $825 . Barack Obama moved decisively to distance himself from the previous administration. but he seems to then rely on proven theory. He has the uncommon ability to both consider vast possibilities and apply high-level scrutiny. pushing top military leaders for a plan to withdraw combat troops from Iraq and issuing a string of orders to make government more open. He may cast a wide net of initial interest. 2009. how a liberal versus a conservative would view the world. the Los Angeles Times wrote. Obama thinks in more objective terms to consider that which is outside the norm. Others might find it strange.

history and traditions. many feared he was too intellectual. but that its actions over many years now have been unhelpful when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity both in the region. that their financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. the president replied with a two-pronged approach. press conference illustrates this point. What I’ve also said is that we should take an approach with Iran that employs all of the resources at the United States disposal and that includes diplomacy. They questioned his authority. as well. Obama demonstrated early on that his academic nature does not preclude action. funding to international family planning organizations. Obama’s initial actions as president traversed multiple paths. My national security team is currently reviewing our existing Iran policy looking at areas where we can have constructive dialogue. From foreign policy to relationships with lawmakers at home to the economics of the nation and fiscal responsibility for his very own team. their pursuit of a nuclear weapon. too theoretical. Within his first few weeks in office we saw a flurry of activity across varied issues. in his actions. how the president’s thought process translates into action on a single issue is interesting. When he was asked about his position on Iran. “What is your strategy for engaging Iran and when will you start to implement it? Will your timetable be affected at all by the Iranian elections and are you getting any indications that Iran is interested in a dialogue with the United States?” Consider the president’s response: I said during the campaign that Iran is a country that has extraordinary people. their bellicose language that they’ve used towards Israel. ordering the Transportation Department to come up with fuel-efficiency standards.9 While Obama’s intellect was well recognized during the campaign. freezing salaries of his staff. He seems to typically incorporate an action plan that is dual in nature.S. A second clip from Obama’s February 9. overturning the Bush administration’s ban on U. one who moves through an all-encompassing discovery process while entertaining divergent and even disparate views and who then takes action across a broad plain. and even relaxing the White House dress code. showing that he possessed not only diversity in thought—what he was willing to consider—but also diversity in what he was willing to commit to. granting a televised interview to the Dubaibased Al-Arabiya news network. In addition to acting with widened scope. sitting down with congressional Republicans and hosting a bipartisanship cocktail party at the White House.8 Right Brain/Left Brain President billion stimulus package to Congress. attacking a problem from two sides. We saw a man who thinks before he acts. where we can directly engage with them. that all those things create the possibility of destabilizing the region and are not only contrary to our interests but are contrary to the interests of international peace. 2009. The actual question was. My expectation is in the coming months we will . that he would not be able to move from intellect to action. Obama took a series of specific steps covering an assortment of matters at hand.

So there are going to be a set of objectives that we have in these conversations but I think that there’s the possibility at least that there could be a relationship of mutual respect and progress and I think if you look at how we’ve approached the Middle East. though.The Obama Phenomenon 9 be looking for openings that can be created. with Wall Street continuing to plummet.11 What can be concluded from early polling regarding his presidency was that Obama was off to a solid start in terms of the decisions he was making. What of his passion and attitude? Given the state of the nation in February of 2009. face to face diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policies forward in a new direction. There’s been a lot of mistrust built up over the years so it is not going to happen overnight and it is important that even as we engage in this direct diplomacy that we are very clear about certain deep concerns we have as a country. now it is time for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently as well and recognize that even as it has some rights as a member of the international community. quickly translating those options into measured steps that address the situation from multiple sides. and naming special envoys for the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan were areas of the president’s highest ratings. referred to as strong overall approval. limiting interrogation techniques on prisoners. In the case of Iran. was the new president’s approach received by the public? Did his initial actions resonate well with the people? In a January 29–February 1. it indicates the degree to which we want to do things differently in the region. opportunities where we can be sitting across the table. tightening ethics rules for administration officials. that we’re clear about the fact that a nuclear Iran could set off an arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilizing. In summary. and record unemployment. 2009. but rather an insightful leader seeing the need to approach problems bilaterally. more businesses failing. Gallup poll. than his actions alone. Passion and Attitude Perhaps there is more to Obama’s high approval ratings. He then begins to weigh his options. though. Perhaps Obama’s passion and enduring positive attitude were an added attraction. the poll indicated that the president received respectable initial ratings. he sees the need to both open a dialogue as well as to make clear certain expectations. Likely his fervor and sheer optimism made us believe in the promise of . for the overall optimism level to be at 61 percent seems notable.10 Obama intellectually comes to understand the situation from all angles. That Iran understands that we find the funding of terrorist organizations unacceptable. This two-pronged approach is not the usual politician flip-flopping on an issue. that he was initially on the right track. How. his overall job approval rating was 66 percent. with those rights comes responsibilities. Matters such as instituting higher fuel-efficiency standards. some of the interviews I’ve given. the appointment of George Mitchell as a special envoy to help deal with the Arab-Israeli situation.

Our health care is too costly. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit. our schools fail too many. against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. the time has come to set aside childish things. to carry forward that precious gift. Yet. a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some. He conveys simply and to the point what he expects. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. At the same time he is sure to put us on notice about what we all need to do to contribute to the solution. to choose our better history. Homes have been lost. there is always a way out and that we will be stronger for it. But know this. the recriminations and worn-out dogmas. but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. businesses shuttered. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land—a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable. but in the words of Scripture. So it must be with this generation of Americans. we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises. subject to data and statistics. passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal. America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office. Obama’s optimism can be bigger than life in what he projects can be achieved.12 In the president’s opening inaugural remarks we experience a leader coming into his charge well aware of the challenges and intending to face those challenges . On this day. They are serious and they are many. Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. Our nation is at war. and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. and that the next generation must lower its sights. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. while he is sure to stress the positive and the hopeful. we gather because we have chosen hope over fear. every so often. Our economy is badly weakened. jobs shed. These are the indicators of crisis. Like his thinking. unity of purpose over conflict and discord. but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers. He reminds us that “yes we can” accomplish our goals. We see a man who smiles and laughs and who relaxes the crowd. Obama’s attitude is two-pronged. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.10 Right Brain/Left Brain President good things to come. America: They will be met. On this day. all are free. that noble idea. Obama seems a believer in the premise that in the darkest of times. the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. and true to our founding documents. The following portion of Obama’s inaugural address typifies the attitude and passion from which he leads. So it has been. At these moments.

we’ve got to restore trust. executive pay tied to government bailout moneys. . indicating that certain acts will no longer be permitted to occur.” Constructive intolerance is an assertive leadership action showing through both firm demarcation and rational argument why things must and will change. That’s shameful. though. Constructive Intolerance While Obama’s passion is exhilarating and his attitude instills promise. we’ve got to make certain that taxpayer funds are not subsidizing excessive compensation packages on Wall Street. Others lost all or part of their life savings. even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses. He declared that if we were to move from where we were to where we needed to be. But in order to restore our financial system. It is meant to build us up rather than tear us down. certain practices could no longer be tolerated. Secretary Geithner will release a new strategy to get credit moving again—a strategy that will reflect the lessons of past mistakes while laying a foundation for the future. our recovery depends upon it.The Obama Phenomenon 11 head-on. Obama. And that’s exactly the kind of disregard for the costs and consequences of their actions that brought about this crisis: a culture of narrow self-interest and short-term gain at the expense of everything else. Obama is announcing his decision for an executive salary cap. that’s the height of irresponsibility. and for what? We had been swindled by those who played an unsuspecting system for all it was worth. We frequently heard Obama relaying some version of the phrase “I will not tolerate this as president. His enthusiasm excites us as he leverages the full weight of history to stake his claim. as an imposed boundary. Passion and positive thinking alone would not suffice. The passion and attitude conveyed through his words unleash a resolve and confidence born from fundamental beliefs in the power of the human spirit. Done and said in this manner. it is hard to argue with. Better still. As I said last week. there is still the matter of reconciling all that had gone so terribly wrong. And in order to restore trust. more specifically. referred to here as constructive intolerance. even for those who are most opposed. was also demonstrating formidability. We all need to take responsibility. It is first and foremost a line in the sand being drawn. And so next week. when they were in trouble. And this includes executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people. My administration will do what it takes to restore our financial system. How could we begin to settle the personal toll and injustice that was at that time occurring? Many had lost their jobs and homes.13 Consider the following example of Obama’s constructive intolerance as he takes a stand on the controversial matter of executive pay. Constructive intolerance is much like constructive criticism. His “yes we can” persona is adopted as our own. hat in hand. Obama’s brand of limit setting was and is productive.

S. But what gets people upset—and rightfully so—are executives being rewarded for failure. wrote a book called Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. . We don’t disparage wealth. and integrity necessary for bona fide success. to recognize the nature of this crisis and their role in it. the president walks us through a rationale that begins with what we need to know about the mistakes that were made and moves to the solution—in his mind the need to restore trust in our financial system as a precursor to restoring the system itself. more importantly. Constructive intolerance is a key component to great leadership. and to do so with someone else’s money.14 In this example.12 Right Brain/Left Brain President This is America. It instills the fundamental accountability. And we’re putting a stop to these kinds of massive severance packages we’ve all read about with disgust. taxpayers. top executives at firms receiving extraordinary help from U.S. Obama sets a firm limit. He calls out certain “shameful” self-serving practices and is explicit about what makes people most disgusted. Obama’s intent is to put the brakes on an out-of-control situation in productive fashion. Obama’s position stated in this manner is fairly difficult to argue with. The book is about driving for results. Larry Bossidy. And if these executives receive any additional compensation. We’re going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid—so that when firms seek new federal dollars. it will come in the form of stock that can’t be paid up until taxpayers are paid back for their assistance. For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis is not only in bad taste —it’s a bad strategy — and I will not tolerate it as president. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success. we won’t find them up to the same old tricks. And we believe that success should be rewarded. we remain at risk. especially when those rewards are subsidized by U. We believe that what we’ve laid out should be viewed as fair and embraced as basic common sense. former chairman and CEO of Honeywell International.000—a fraction of the salaries that have been reported recently. to have a select few reward themselves for failure. He closes with a bottom line: what his administration is asking for. He is clear about his bottom line. and Ram Charan. Without certain boundaries and. provides a context and a rationale. fairness. for these stakeholders to be realistic and to be a part of a logical solution. We’re asking these firms to take responsibility. we’re taking the air out of the golden parachute. As part of the reforms we are announcing today. without leaders themselves who are willing to properly open their eyes to issues such as these and to set and uphold limits. taxpayers will have their compensation capped at $500. what organizations and specifically leaders need to attend to in order to be successful. advisor to CEOs and top executives. Companies receiving federal aid are going to have to disclose publicly all the perks and luxuries bestowed upon senior executives and provide an explanation to the taxpayers and to shareholders as to why these expenses are justified.

was with a community hit hard by the economic downturn. he is willing to model in himself what he expects of others.” 15 We see in Obama the makings of a leader who is willing to take a stand and not tolerate that which undermines fundamental and long-term success. Florida. As he moves further into his presidency. Slowly. we came to know Obama as a compassionate and committed partner in our struggles. Obama’s intent to make the White House and other government buildings greener in support of energy conservation is another such example of his modeling. Obama showed his willingness to demonstrate the behaviors he expected from others when at the outset of his term he froze pay increases for his own team. He demonstrates time and time again a capacity for empathy. I love you both so much.”16 When first questioned about what breed of dog the Obamas were considering. race. that distinguishes him.The Obama Phenomenon 13 An interesting quote from their book is. asked the woman her name. and class to relate to a multitude of people. the newly inaugurated president. looked her in the eye. “Please help us. and it appeared also that both his head and his heart were in the right place. He seemingly had a firm grasp on the daunting tasks his administration was facing. The president stopped for a moment. Furthermore. His Human Side On February 10. Momentary silence fell over the room. .” Then he did something more. Obama’s accentuated human qualities will afford the opportunity to foster renewed hope and personal accountability in the American people and to address problems at home and abroad that until now have seemed irreconcilable. 2009. We first knew Obama as a reserved. Obama’s human side enables him to transcend age. a deeper human side.” she pleaded. This was genuine human connection. In looking initially to find a rescue puppy Obama rather matter-of-factly exhibited the community-minded values he wants others to be thinking about. followed by gracious applause. “I am going to do my best. and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. thoughtful candidate. Modeling seems an ingrained behavior for the president since it surfaced in a day-to-day aspect of his personal life. “Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate. at a town hall meeting in Fort Myers. As the campaign wore on and later as he assumed office. religion. walked over to her. not sympathy. A woman stepped up to the microphone declaring her family’s desperation. The president. Barack Obama. the then president-elect stated that they would like to find a rescue animal. visibly moved by the moment. hugged the woman and gently kissed her on the cheek. She was jobless and homeless. gender. and replied. You may recall the moving line from Obama’s acceptance speech: “Sasha and Malia. Extending from his professionally poised intellectual persona was a genuineness.17 This was not political posturing. we were coming to understand a number of things about our new president. He had his initial direction sorted.

On February 3. former Democratic leader Tom Daschle stepped down from nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services due to irregularities with his past tax filings. • Obama has described the difference between what he sees as free versus fair trade. as something we need to own up to. Cooper: Do you think you’ve lost some of your moral high ground you set for yourself on Day 1? Obama: Well I think this was a mistake. • Obama asserts that the questionable treatment of prisoners of war is an inhumanity that cannot be justified. With respect to Obama’s human side we see a man who possesses empathy and compassion. I take responsibility for the appointees. but also the politics which is going to be required to actually get it done. on a CNN live interview with Anderson Cooper. Cooper: What was your mistake —letting it get this far or should you have pulled it earlier? Obama: I think my mistake is not in selecting Tom originally because I think nobody was better qualified to deal with both the substance and policy of health care. admitted his mistake. Obama replied. .” When was the last time we heard a prominent leader say that? The exchange with Anderson Cooper went as follows: Cooper: Do you feel you messed up in letting it get this far? Obama: Yes. Some examples of Obama’s moral imperative include the following: • Obama points to the distortion and erosion in values in America’s governing systems and processes. He understands it well as anybody. “I think I screwed up. But I think ultimately I campaigned on changing Washington and bottom up politics and I don’t want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards. I think I made a mistake and I told Tom that. In early February 2009. I think I screwed up and I take responsibility for it and we’re gonna make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again. one for powerful people and one for the ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes. “What Washington needs is adult supervision”19 was one joking.14 Right Brain/Left Brain President Beyond compassion and empathy. We also see a man who sees mistakes as an opportunity to learn. 2009. no defensiveness or excuses. when questioned about problems with Tom Daschle’s appointment.18 Stated simply and directly. the president took full responsibility. and in what works and what doesn’t. one who is genuine in his commitment to help. another of Obama’s admirable human qualities is his ability to admit mistakes. • Obama notes the inhumanity in health care as a privilege rather than a right. and walked us through his learning. as a fact of life. yet nonetheless revealing reference Obama made to how he would characterize this circumstance. What we see overall in terms of Obama’s human side is that he is grounded in morality and reason. in the difference between right and wrong. calling Washington politics badly broken.

20 To sum up Obama’s human side we first would say that he is a sound and polished professional who also leads through true emotional connection. the United States of America. straight. in this election. because they believed that this time must be different. how Obama communicates his moral vision. Obama’s human side is punctuated by morality. and always will be.The Obama Phenomenon 15 While many may agree with these ideals in theory. If you follow him. he lets his deepest ideas simply structure what he is saying. “Like other self-aware and highly articulate speakers. and fearful. because of what we did on this day. those whose qualities equate more with power. who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time.” is an important read that helps shed light on the president’s moral grounding.” The Lakoff article. who still questions the power of our democracy. gay. the deep ideas are communicated unconsciously and automatically. George Lakoff. but tonight. Asian. by people who waited three hours and four hours.21 . white. and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. Making History If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible. Democrat and Republican. many for the very first time in their lives. titled “The Seven Intellectual Underpinnings of the Obama Code. that their voice could be that difference. Native American. he connects with his audience using what cognitive scientists call the ‘cognitive unconscious. Power as an aspect of leadership is far more impactful in the long run than power as leadership in and of itself. tonight is your answer. professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. Obama makes them the platform from which his policies will develop. It’s the answer spoken by young and old. making him someone we should be able to count on to do the right thing. Lastly. change has come to America. disabled and not disabled—Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are. As such Obama represents a significant step change from usual high-level authorities. The Code is his most effective way to bring the country together around fundamental American values. It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen. It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical. It’s been a long time coming. black. rich and poor.’ Speaking naturally. writes of Obama’s moral imperative. at this defining moment. Lakoff frames it around what he calls the Obama code. Added to that one-two punch is someone who leads by example and owns up to his own mistakes. Latino. Lakoff writes. In many ways we see in Obama quintessential human qualities that when melded with his core leadership skills equate to fundamental greatness.

Powell’s contemporary. rising up against all odds to win the 2008 presidential election. lifestyle. Kennedy sent in federal troops and U. my kids were crying and I thought. based on race.”22 In his interview General Powell recounted memories of the army as a place where he was treated as an equal and thereby able to excel. The violence resulted in two people dead. an African American with an unusual name.23 There have been countless Meredith-like instances in our lifetime — stories of inequality. Obama commented. I supported him. a moving element of Obama’s remarkable appeal. The election of Barack Hussein Obama. or blessed. in fact it was a monumental civil rights event. graduating in 1963 with a degree in political science. Meredith’s admission was far from routine. Marshals wounded by gunfire. Think of the civil rights milestones Powell saw in his lifetime. and now. General Powell had this to say on a CNN televised interview: “It hit me hard. that have scarred our lives.”24 History was made as an important milestone barrier in human existence was broken.S. The Phenomenon Recapped There are seven distinct aspects of Obama’s appeal. gender. Obama’s election marked a dramatic step change in our civil rights movement. and on October 1. and twenty-eight U. believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. “My parents shared not only an improbable love. I was sitting in my chair. Just forty-some years ago James Meredith. we did it. I was expecting it. 2008. Obama. They would give me an African name. Riots ensued. He recalled his commanders telling him that they didn’t care about his background or race. was the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi. to name two of his distinguished accomplishments. What a great country America is.16 Right Brain/Left Brain President Those infamous words were spoken by the first African American president of the United States in Chicago. he is holding onto and in fact growing that allure: . they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. Colin Powell was the first African American member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first African American Secretary of State. Illinois. sparking moving commentary from a man who had until that moment held the highest-ranking position in the United States for an African American. Marshals to restore order. he was barred from entering Ole Miss. on November 4. Barack.S. as such. early into his presidency. forty-eight soldiers injured. gave healing impetus to the ongoing fight for equality. 1962. but it was still an electric shock. and President John F. It is a magnificent accomplishment and. they cared only that he did what was expected of him and did it well. Meredith was denied admission twice. is the crowning glory on his leadership allure. Meredith went on to complete his education.

17 How then did Obama become who he is today? What is attributable to his makeup and what to his experiences? Why is Obama able to leverage his brain differently than perhaps the typical leader. Obama’s brand of limit setting is productive. He showed that if we were to move from where we were to where we wanted to go. and who accepts and admits to his own mistakes. • The nature of his intelligence—Obama’s eagerness to consider new possibilities expands his intellectual potential tenfold.The Obama Phenomenon • An unassuming beginning—Obama came to us with a quiet strength. polite and unassuming in demeanor. . to act beyond behavioral preferences with such facility? These are the questions to be answered next. He weighs his options and quickly translates those options into measured steps that attack an issue from multiple sides. He not only sees things from different perspectives but has an uncanny ability to appreciate the unusual. referred to as constructive intolerance. He took note and began a lengthy discovery process of the complex issues his nation was facing. gave great impetus to our ongoing global fight for equality. He was measured in his words. Added to that one-two punch is someone we can count on who is grounded in what’s right. certain actions could no longer be tolerated. It is a magnificent accomplishment and as such a moving element of Obama’s remarkable appeal. and. • His formidability—Obama demonstrated early on in his presidency that he was formidable. an African American with an unusual name. Better still. above all. • He made history—The election of Barack Hussein Obama. It was this initial unobtrusive persona that allowed those around him to speak and him to listen. • Actions we can support—Obama intellectually comes to understand situations from all angles. a powerful one-two punch. thoughtful in his approach. He possesses a genuine appreciation for diversity. • His human qualities—Obama’s human side juxtaposes sound and polished professionalism with true emotional connection. • His passion and positive attitude—The passion and attitude Obama conveys unleash a resolve and confidence born from fundamental beliefs in the power of the human spirit. leading by example.

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I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds. His mother was a white woman born in the Midwest. Yet as far apart as those worlds were. on the other hand. The two met. his was a life juxtaposed. one requiring continuous reconciliation of what remained constant in his life with that which diverged. the most pronounced is the fixed and central role his mother and her parents played. came from the more striking multifarious life circumstances surrounding his familial path. with his life experiences. Obama’s father was a black man from a prominent Kenyan family. Obama’s biracial background was his most defining contrast. Certain stabilities were ever present while contradictions were posed to him at nearly every life juncture. In fact. the disparities and constants will be revealed. and married while both were students at the University of Hawaii. In exploring the interplay of his heredity. what is referred to as nurture. fell in love. — Barack Obama1 A Life Juxtaposed In understanding how Barack Obama became the leader he is today there is much to sort through.Chapter 2 The Nature / Nurture of Leadership As it was. appears to have been a rich breeding ground for his unique leadership traits. beginning with the complexities of his background. one of kindred links and vast distinctions. In terms of the consistencies in Obama’s life. Distinctions and incongruities. there was also much in his lineage that was shared. he was from two worlds. As the preceding quote reflects. She was an only child from a middle-class home. convinced that with a bit of translation on my part the two worlds would eventually cohere. understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning. This very milieu. what is referred to as nature. Each parent was notable in ability . yet there were many others.

and daughters. and faith Life with wife Michelle and their children The distinct configuration of these impacts allowed Obama to in fact coalesce a potent result. He was exposed to varied faiths and religions and came ultimately to his own spiritual choice. The extent to which our environment can impact our intellectual propensity is part of the larger deliberation. private. and political parties with the aim of building unity. basic background information may prove helpful. How do genetics and our environment work in consort to determine behavioral outcomes? The Luck of the Draw The precise formula for how much of our makeup is attributable to genetics versus the environment remains under debate. each locale and experience distinct. New York. As Obama’s life evolved he was faced with the isolation and inhumanity of racism along with the embrace and adoration of millions. Theorists can agree. and international schools and was for a time homeschooled by his mother as a supplement to his Indonesian education.20 Right Brain/Left Brain President and perspective. Sasha and Malia. peoples. Michelle. reaching across communities. career. is punctuated by the traditional family stability he himself had not experienced. In Obama ’s case. They are as follows: • • • • • What he inherited from and experienced through his parents The influences of his maternal grandparents The impact of his stepfather and experiences in Indonesia Education. He attended college in California. though. His life with wife. Obama had extraordinary inspirations to provide guidance and to feed his compelling potentials. Throughout Obama ’s life he had only brief contact with his father and little connection to his father’s family. and Boston. Barack grew up exposed to the nuances of culture from this very beginning. To begin. . for example. He was exposed further to diversity growing up in Hawaii amid mixed ethnic and social groups and living for four years as a young boy in Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. that our intelligence is to a great extent the result of our genes. strong suits in what he inherited (intelligence-wise) and how his mind was encouraged make for nature/nurture conclusions to be more readily drawn. five categories of influence are considered. His career was an outgrowth of his own existence. While some individuals may have been lost in the complexities of such an uncharacteristic life.2 Looking back over Barack Obama’s composite existence. Obama attended public. Following his father’s death he journeyed to Kenya hoping to settle his heritage. Understanding both who Obama is and how he came to be engenders reverence for his uncommon brand of leadership.

and for certain illnesses as well. Ethology. Such is the case for many physical traits — eye and hair color. the estimate adjusts up or down. A Sociocultural Context One’s makeup can be further configured based on the nature of traits themselves. genetic configurations shuffle again in a dancelike process called crossing over. Behaviors and abilities are not as straightforward. Crossing over makes it virtually impossible for any two individuals. he will share fewer traits with them. but remains a part of our makeup and therefore passes along to future generations. but that which is common across cultures as a result . Still. As a result Obama may share certain traits with his parents and some perhaps with his grandparents. Moments before actual conception. while our phenotype represents our observable characteristics. Intelligence is first of all multifaceted. Intelligence is thought to be at least to some extent influenced by one’s environment. examines interweaving aspects of one’s biological. Intelligence is one such trait. We could carry a trait that is unexpressed in us per se. therefore. Some traits are dominant and some recessive. As he is an only child but has several half-siblings. the luck of the draw. but the random nature of splitting that occurs during conception nets infinite trait possibilities. An ethological perspective is important when examining Obama’s development. in all. Certain characteristics are influenced by a single gene pair.000 and as high as 100. with the exception of identical twins.3 Which factors may have contributed to Obama ’ s brain power. Estimates range as low as 20. functional. to be genetically the same. for example. Our genetic makeup is part of an intricate code to our traits.000. his genetic code represents a one-ofa-kind constellation. Our genotype is our actual genetic composition. Ethology takes into account all aspects of one’s life while also striving to find not so much how we are different from one another. Opportunities afforded us along with the values and expectations of key figures can impact academic performance. those influenced by both genes and the environment. Varied abilities make up one’s intelligence quotient (IQ). Our genes are carried on chromosomes in pairs. They are the result of multiple gene pairs and multifactorial traits. This is why siblings possess as many disparities as they do likenesses. the study of behavior in the context of environment. making it more or less likely that a trait will be passed on. one pair part from one parent and one pair part from the other. The sheer variation in numeric guesswork points out the complexities of it all.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 21 With respect to our genetic inheritance we each possess a still undetermined number of genes. and cultural heritage. With each step closer to understanding our full genome. and what is the nature of his varied mental abilities? These are two interesting queries to probe. it is actually a collection of traits with multiple genes involved in its formulation.

6 It will be interesting to investigate which of Obama’s behaviors may have been impacted by such sensitive periods.5 Ethology looks also at certain times. . The ethological perspective would factor into his genetic inheritance the adjustments he had to make in the context of a cross-cultural existence. then we might not solve every problem. This example is presented as a visualization exercise ( good too for brain development). but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth . Nature / Nurture Simplified How then does the nature/nurture equation boil down to straightforward terms? As a child I spent summers at a beach community with many arcades and boardwalk entertainment venues nearby. Most importantly. perhaps coinciding with specific aspects of physical maturation. what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart. Someone with a more homogenous existence would have had less opportunity to develop such insights as intimately as he. As coins pass over the edge they fall into a collection bucket as a player’ s winnings. when the environment has greater impact on our learning than at other times. to be exact. ethology would zero in on commonality across Obama’s human experience. if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it. One arcade game stands out as an applicable analogy.4 Ethology provides an interesting perspective when examining someone with Obama’ s diverse roots and encounters. . Picture a large square machine with glass windows at eye level on all four sides. there ’s the United States of America.22 Right Brain/Left Brain President of our overarching biological heritage. pushing the coins closer and closer to an edge. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America. It would acknowledge the struggles of a biracial existence. Obama makes the case for that which we all share: We have a stake in one another . so be patient and play along. It is easier for a child to learn language at certain times. Obama ’ s outlook. Using this game will more simply illustrates how nature /nurture dynamics occur. Through his personal life path he had come to know the shared aims of people. that from unity we find salvation. the development of muscles in the larynx enables greater ease in the formation of uttered sounds. for example. Such a theoretical view could help explain the ultimate professional vision Obama came to both for his country and for the world. . Learning language is one such example. and . . . reflects an ethological inclination. . called sensitive periods. In the following words spoken repeatedly during his campaign for the presidency. . Many social behaviors are also considered to be influenced by sensitive periods. The steps move back and forth independently. Through the windows you are staring with fascination at three tiered steps piled with coins — quarters.

her capacity for wonder. The quarters fall randomly onto one of the steps. such as what we see from Obama’ s brand of leadership. his mother. and that what is best in me I owe to her. his maternal grandparents. Exceptional behavioral qualities. some bad). I won’t try to describe how deeply I mourn her passing still. To increase the likelihood of a win. Obama’s life was such that his innate robust markers were complemented by key influences. your development unfolding from birth through adulthood. changing the configuration further. and your prize is realized. most generous spirit I have ever known. Some quarters are bright and shiny ( representing positive traits) while others are dull or marred (representing negative traits). his education. or timing. Her middle name was Ann. Eventually quarters do fall over the edge. Michelle. As your coins are added in. stocked with quarters. I know that she was the kindest. and their children. career. We begin first with Obama’s key orchestrator. her joy. Obama’s mother was named after her father. Obama’s life with wife. The coins this machine came equipped with are in essence your single-gene expressed traits and multiple gene propensities. . the configuration shifts and you stand a chance of winning some money. as representative of your genetic makeup. shared qualities. moving coins closer still to the promised land. his stepfather and time in Indonesia. Think of one of these machines brand new. and moments. Accelerated jolts symbolize sensitive periods —opportune life moments. Each will be examined as related to an ultimate leadership impact whether from individuals.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 23 To play the game you insert quarters one at a time. Influences. —Barack Obama 7 Barack and his mother shared an enduring bond born from love. and finally. and Moments We come now to Obama ’s five key influences — his parents. and no doubt the challenge one faces growing up with an unusual name. (Stanley) Ann Dunham In my daughters I see her every day. Quarters that fall over the edge become the manifestation of your behaviors and abilities. Stanley. experiences. circumstances. and faith. come from precise and improbable combinations of strong innate markers/good genes (vast numbers of bright and shiny coins lined up close to the edge) along with frequent and diverse prompting from the environment (continuous plays combined with frequent accelerated jolts). Experiences. they represent your behaviors and abilities evolving in the context of culture and the environment. intermittent exaggerated movements are programmed in. Think of the movement of the steps as your normal maturational process. As play goes on and more coins drop. as most everyone came to call her. Stanley Senior was apparently expecting a boy. Each time you play (adding in coins) it represents a life experience and/or a key influence (some good.

He recalls that she was tenacious in her approach. She studied at the University of Hawaii and earned a PhD in anthropology. Years later.9 In addition to her basic values.8 Of his mother. requiring introductions to a new group of snickering peers each time. unfazed by the resistance of an opposed youngster. Hers were not the usual teenage preoccupations. She lived twice each in Kansas and Washington and in California. form your own impressions. Ann’s interests were less about her immediate social sphere and more about the issues facing humanity. even tutoring him for a time while they lived in Indonesia. class. compassion. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. where she remarried and had a second child. Oklahoma. Obama references his mother ’s unwavering determination and rebut to her son’s objections as she worked with him tirelessly day in and day out to enhance his Indonesian education. Though her second marriage ended in divorce as well. and perspective. Her colleagues and influences transcended race.m. Independent judgment — be your own person. Her intellect. Ann and then six-year-old Barack moved to Indonesia. Ann’s name was far from her only distinction. buster. she was also forthright in her convictions. her career remained centered in Asia. after her marriage to Barack Obama Senior. Obama describes being awakened by his mother every morning at 4:00 a. Son Barack was born during the early part of her education. for his lessons. and Hawaii. relaying a potent and charming defense: “This is no picnic for me either. Fairness — what is good for one is good for all. as we often heard Obama reference the moment along with his mother ’s direct quote in public addresses on the campaign trail. Her perspective and concerns would ultimately take her to a life that transcended typical borders. following a divorce from Barack’s father. say what you mean.24 Right Brain/Left Brain President Stanley Ann’s challenge was compounded by the number of times she and her family moved. In his autobiography. She was seen by her peers as a forward thinker well beyond her years and time. Not surprising that such a woman gave rise to a son whose vision was to change the world. She worked in the field of rural development supporting human rights and the rights of women. marked compassion.”10 Ann’s tact was notably effective. While Ann was gentle at heart and viewed the world through an open lens. She was both intellectually disposed and learning driven. She provided disciplined instruction. . Straight talk — be direct. and quest for justice set her apart. She worked hard to pass her academic ethic on to her son. Obama relays that she taught him the following values: • • • • Honesty — plainly and simply. She seemingly impressed her son with her passion and her perseverance. do not lie. and interminable resolve. Texas. Obama’s mother possessed a quiet strength. Maya. not to mention her love and commitment.

a man noted for being clear in his beliefs and able to hold true to them. and unfaltering love would spring crucial aspects of Obama’s character. He left his wife and two-year-old son Barack in Hawaii to attend Harvard. Obama speaks more of the cherished role his mother played in who he had become. It would be difficult to not be stirred by such a person. Obama described her valuescentric approach to life. He and Barack’s mother were by then divorced but maintained a friendship and bond. She sought to instill in her children enduring. Barack Senior was a capable student chosen by his country’s government to study in the United States. He was the son of a tribal elder and prominent farmer. worldview. magnanimous spirit. and transformational perspective. where he earned a PhD.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 25 In his second book. Obama would receive the necessary orientation to iteratively face and come to terms with the inconsistencies of his being. and integrity. traits and perspectives that from a missing father or his stand-in are more typically thwarted. Obama grew from a solid foundation and could ultimately chart a meaningful course. From his mother ’s intellect. Barack Senior Barack Senior was described as a mischievous child and confident adult. so he himself was abandoned and raised by his stepmother. honesty. the first of which was to his father’s world. her benevolence. He graduated in three years at the top of his class and was inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa society. her basic commitment to understand the plight of others. positive impressions of their fathers. A leader at heart. Obama’s appreciation of the unusual no doubt was born from his mother’s wonderment. His mother maintained amicable relationships with both former husbands. and a champion both of him and for the world’s injustices. He returned to Kenya following his studies to support his country ’ s development. As a result of her maternal brand—that of a tender soul mate. In doing so she paved the way for son Barack to assimilate that which his father and stepfather could offer and pass on. He spoke of her unending compassion and thoughtfulness for others. almost to a fault. He was later accepted with scholarships to both Harvard University and New York’s New School. The Audacity of Hope. opening many doors. Barack Senior ’s mother left her husband and children. he was the first president of the International Students Association.11 When reading Obama’s recollections of his mother one can’ t help but feel her as an inspiring presence.12 . At the University of Hawaii he was their first African student. From mother Ann. From Stanley Ann ’s acceptance and tolerance her son’ s own empathic lens was roused. She was both full of life and fascinated with its intricacies. He relayed how committed and determined she was to meet her goals and how passionately she approached her causes. a teacher. a protector.

and analogous logic. Obama came to believe the account was accurate. one able to express himself well in the moment. As such. and positive ease. While most patrons were enjoying themselves. class. Obama was then attending prep school Punahou Academy. Told also in his memoirs. knowing his father was in the area. yet someone also gentle in spirit.26 Right Brain/Left Brain President A defining account of his father’s demeanor was relayed in Obama’s autobiography. Obama detailed a story about his father’s handling of racist comments at a local Waikiki bar. Instead. and the like. Obama referenced how his father seemed able to quickly captivate his classmates through his presence. sincerity. and fervor. Obama described further how his father ended with a unifying perspective. During that visit a particular event stood out in Obama’s recount. We can envision a speaker of impressive wisdom. To everyone’ s surprise. through the additional recollections of his . fearing it would worsen the existing divide with his peers. perhaps helping to shape a context and propensity for how discourse could be addressed. a power was perhaps sparked in his son. It was an interesting illustration if nothing else for how to keep your cool and take a leadership high road. This man’s exact words were far cruder than my rendering. This was a tale told to Obama by his grandparents and coincidentally confirmed by another source later on. the event proved to be surprisingly interventional. with talk of lions. to teach them of Kenyan culture and African landscapes and to interest them in the plight of his people. Obama described that his teacher. When Obama was ten years old his father came to Hawaii for a brief stay. one can assume. Yet. The instance took place one evening when Barack Senior joined his father-in-law and some friends for a quiet social respite. and gestures. Over time. not to mention his classmates’ reactions to his unfamiliar name. confidence. Anticipating his father’s appearance caused great angst for the young Obama. Barack Senior was able to draw in his listeners. this story would repeat in memory and meaning for his son. passionately about what all people have in common. and race distinctions. Obama and his father would have only occasional written contact in the years to come. Barack Senior quietly and politely approached the man in question and attempted to preach to him about the evils of his thinking and of what good can come when we respect one another. speaking directly and.13 From this portrayal we picture a man who influences through knowledge. Barack Senior used this encounter to positively sway rather than to avenge. The eloquence and magnetism we see in Obama today may in fact emanate from distinct paternal traits kindled in this sensitive moment. Through his father’s fluidly expressed perspectives. Their sense of wonder was heightened. one man blurted out his disgust with having to share his evening with a black man. the students’ imaginations were roused. tribes. this time not a story he heard but an event Obama himself witnessed. His adjustment to the school had been difficult amid social. The origin of Obama’s own inner spokesperson was being fashioned.14 Interesting facts appeared to be carefully interwoven with dramatic appeal. requested that he come and speak at his class about life in Kenya. commanding presence. words. however.

More poignantly. Stanley and Madeline Dunham appeared to be completely committed to their grandson. the other tried and true. a defining moment with respect to one’s personal honesty. and then to an American he met while attending Harvard. Barack Senior’s ultimate personal and professional success was compromised. led decent lives. his namesake left to contend with a father’s convoluted legacy. it seems. They raised Obama for a time while his mother and half sister remained in Indonesia. moving through such a chasm and emerging resolved. though. loving figures in his life.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 27 mother and grandparents Barack Senior’s favorable attributes would continue to be reinforced. and insight. and charismatic. His grandparents’ lives reflected in so many ways what is good and basic about Americans. Theirs became the story of rather typical parents whose only child embarked on an atypical life. nerve. existed within the confines of perhaps a restless discontent. then to Obama ’s mother. was a brilliant man. and son Barack Obama was his only namesake. and his grandmother painstakingly worked her way up from secretary to first woman vice president of a local bank. and tried to set a good example for their daughter and grandchildren. He was likely a serious student and a man of convictions. What else was known was that Barack Senior worked as an economist. respected those around them. Barack Senior’s tragic 1982 death followed a series of misfortunes in his later life. were constant. first to a Kenyan woman. Gramps and Toot Obama’s maternal grandparents. while his grandmother’s cornerstones were steadfastness and good old-fashioned common sense.16 From a leadership perspective it speaks to Obama’s ability to confront and to reconcile trying circumstances. One was adventurous. speaks to leadership courage. He points to a need to face his circumstance and to find closure. President Obama’s handling of this most personal struggle is a testament to his resolve and an indicator perhaps of his present-day ability to constructively and ably manage those who cross the line. His merits. We can see many of these positives in his son. better able to press on. He published various papers. to complete his own story by once and for all confronting both the void of his father’s neglect and the nature of Obama’s own ultimate ties. As basic as they were in most respects. In a chronicle from that time Obama describes an urgency he felt to unify the pieces of his life. Obama’s father. articulate. Obama’s grandfather had a gregarious nature. He could be poised. they each possessed certain . not the least of which is evident in the abandonment of his son.15 Upon hearing of his father’s death Obama made plans to journey to Kenya. His grandfather was a salesman. He had eight children. whom he called Gramps and Toot. They were hardworking. He married three times. eventually becoming senior economist in the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. some of which were controversial and as such hampered his career. placed family first.

As Obama walked the tightrope of his own reconciliatory process. Obama’s grandparents also told stories that inadvertently provided answers to many of his unasked questions. and even treacherous. was Obama’s mother’s complementary support. Theirs was a fascinating testament to both the intricacies of genetics and the power of close familial relationships.17 Special Man / Special Place Obama lived for several years with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. Obama’s time with Lolo and his mother in Indonesia may also have been important in another respect. This in and of itself must have been of great comfort. and through casual conversations with Gramps and Toot. a faraway place. primal. He met Barack’s mother while studying for his master’s degree at the University of Hawaii. Lolo taught his stepson how to pragmatically navigate life with an extraordinary cultural context as backdrop. Lolo Soetoro. Indonesia itself. as he was called) had his mother by his side to brace the experience. Their unobtrusive company over the course of Obama’s childhood may have braced periods of inner void. Indonesia was raw. existence. In comparison to Obama’s U. rituals. certain of life’s confusions were clarified. what was he like. Questions like. He could take in much of Indonesia’s strife. their family home was destroyed. why did he and Mom get married?” may have filled a young Obama’s mind. sheltered somewhat from the scrutiny someone older would possess. For several years. Young Barack (or Barry. From this origin. Gramps and Toot seemed there to catch him if he fell. He saw immense poverty and deprivation. He was described by Obama as a caring and committed presence. He also had his stepfather. when Barack was about age six to age ten. His grandmother hailed that small part of her own Native American heritage. It . Lolo was the youngest of ten children.18 Of equal bearing. unfiltered. and his mother was left to flee with her nine remaining children. Lolo himself had a traumatic past. that her family rebuffed.S. His father and brother were killed during the Indonesian national revolution.28 Right Brain/Left Brain President distinctions. It was Ann’s parents’ support of who she was and the life she chose that would act as a safety net of sorts for both her and her son. “Who was my father. Perhaps the fact that Obama was so young afforded him a more palpable view of the experience. though. as interpreter and guide. Lolo had firsthand experience with the stark realities of life. They were a gentle push when he was apprehensive and a buffer against his overwhelming existential truths. was an extraordinary playground for a young boy. giving way to Ann’s defining characteristics. and habits. Obama’s grandfather wrote poetry and had a great sense of wonder. What his mother had to offer in terms of nurturing and hope for how the world could be was coupled with Lolo’s insistence on how in fact it was. Their collective nuances took hold in their daughter. Lolo. Cherokee to be exact. While Obama lived with his mother and Lolo in Indonesia he himself witnessed certain forms of harshness and experienced unusual customs.

Maya. he began reading what he thought would be an article about a man who was gravely ill. Certainly the picture of blacks and whites depicted by his family did not match up with this horrifying fact. Responding favorably when seemingly prompted or pushed is what learning theorists refer to as readiness. Knowledge forced the difficult questions and provided the critical answers. Confronted with a startling reality. In Lolo’s words. Obama is in fact a student of life. And while his mother’s perspective may have been subjective. Obama’s then kindled critical thinking would prove to be his hardwired approach to life’s complexities. Always. for a time. along with Lolo’s shoring of Obama’s fortitude. her support. each learning chapter chronicled Obama’s development as a student. education. Obama’s initial discovery of prejudice may have shaken him in the moment. with his new baby half sister. He took with him a responsible and respectable father figure’s perspective of the importance of inner strength. He was shocked to discover that the man was black and had undergone botched skin treatments to make himself appear white! The thought of such a process. and a man. While he respected his mother’s worldview. He had been living in Indonesia for three years when the epiphany occurred. Though he kept his fears to himself he described the experience as forever changing his perspective. A most striking account of his educational process is shown in how he first came to understand racism. Obama returned to Hawaii around his tenth birthday. how she saw people. or. he would come to realize the limitations of his current knowledge base.S. He stumbled onto a Life magazine and was looking at the photographs.”19 On Education From his initial educational experiences in Indonesia to his postgraduate schooling at Harvard. but the significant forces looking out for him ensured a foundation solid enough to withstand the inner quake.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 29 afforded Obama his only approximation to traditional family life as he lived with a mother and father and. “If you can’t be strong. Obama contemplated the various maladies the man may have had. such a need.20 From this harsh reality Obama was forced to think about learning in a different light. more to the point. Readiness is about the circumstances under which . his mother wanting him to have the benefit of continued U. how perhaps you need to be empowered in your own learning process. be clever and make peace with someone who is strong. even by those with the best of intentions. Obama describes that he and his mother were at her place of work and he was left to occupy himself in the library. shook Obama’s world. While his mother’s embracing perspective could set foundational knowledge. But always better to be strong yourself. He found out the hard way that facts could be skewed. he couldn’t help wondering why that position now seemed so incomplete. it would be up to him to ensure that the subject matter was both fully exposed and amply dissected. a leader. perhaps readied Obama for life’s later challenges. Interested by one photo in particular.

One of only a few other black students. He would connect directly with a passion for public speaking. and the emotional connection to his fellow students. Obama’s rich educational experiences in all included foreign. More specifically. Obama would draw from the potent combination of past influences and present opportunities to begin to shape his future. His father’s influence.30 Right Brain/Left Brain President someone is able to take in knowledge. Through the words chosen. homeschooled. Obama was primed to handle this realization. confirmed while listening to an admired blues artist’s recording. Vygotsky believed that under the right circumstances learning can hasten development.21 Though it may not have felt like it at the time. Now he heard an inner strength. Endure—and make music that wasn’t there before. the passion in his voice. California. when listening to the singer. that which learning theorist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky referred to as a Zone of Proximal Development. He was participating in a student rally and found himself front and center. would come to bear in Obama’s finding his own voice. it would become the basis for his evolution into the consummate thinker he is today. he had heard despair and vulnerability in her voice. Obama was at a critical maturational point when he discovered the provocative Life magazine article. that of a captivating speaker. Upon entering Occidental College in Los Angeles. Until then he had felt constrained but was slowly evolving to see possibilities before him. how he would make his life contribution. Previously. I heard a willingness to endure. More importantly. speaking before a crowd for the first time. Obama himself now readily engaged his audience just as his father once did. it may actually have been a time of healthy detachment and reflection as he continued sorting through the maze of his existence. A young person’s college existence is a time for sorting a direction. academic and social experiences fuel personal and professional growth. His exact reference was this: “Her voice sounded different to me now. When you are on your own for the first time. Though his mother and perhaps by Obama himself saw it as a low point. nudging one toward further knowledge when the matter under consideration is aimed just beyond one’s current scope. Obama relays this key moment as an awakening. he found his time there painfully crystallizing. a leadership cornerstone of his today. Obama reports a period later on at Punahou Academy when he withdrew socially. Perhaps at his disposal was the memory of his father’s address to Obama’s classmates long ago at Punahou. and he would frame his professional positioning. the first of many defining speaking engagements to follow.22 Obama’s undergraduate years would mark two notable leadership milestones. Beneath the layers of hurt. while his mother’s humanitarian plight would contribute to Obama’s newfound direction. Obama unleashed his own brand of expressive facility.”23 . beneath the ragged laughter. He heard promise. Perhaps this moment was the beginning of his reflective nature. Obama had his first foray into public speaking. His preparatory experience at Punahou Academy would serve not only to enrich his mind but also to bring his social and racial challenges to the forefront. and private settings for elementary and secondary school and competitive colleges and universities.

and with limitless opportunities to choose from he came back to Chicago to continue the work he had begun there. and after a time. it was time to rise above his immediate scope and shed past lament. through that connection. Many he worked with in Chicago thought he wouldn’t return. yet it is actually a substantive vehicle for developing and exercising broad-based leadership skills. He had to become a role model. It was through the role of community organizer that Obama would begin to. Community organizing is far from a glamorous line of work. It is work that in many respects requires you to act from a wider leadership platform than if you had positional authority. It carries with it little if any direct hierarchical authority. As a community organizer Obama had to influence without rank. beginning with its resource constraints. In community organizing he would choose. deciding he wanted additional education. Now was his time to leverage those forces into his own personal brand. The varying brands of determination. as did his mother. To get anything accomplished you must be able to leverage marked networking and consensusbuilding skill. he would consider an outlook more future focused.and left-brain abilities into leadership strong suits. someone others trusted and would aspire to be like. a grassroots direction.24 On Faith Going back for a moment to the period just before Obama was to enter Harvard. Obama began his work as a community organizer in Chicago. Community organizing is atypically challenging in the intricacies of how one actually makes an impact. he left to attend Harvard Law School. but he completed his degree. He had come from a long line of individuals steeped in convictions. Instead. coalesce his primed right. A Career Path Obama’s work as a community organizer would eventually follow. Through this work. born of prospects and fortitude. in their own unique way would pave a fresh path forward. to live where they lived and. to fit in and to redirect. another developmental milestone would occur. He had to demonstrate an understanding of the people’s circumstances and provide knowledge in a way that was accepted. Obama was able to explore the bounds of his purpose and test his ability to inspire and make an impact. Obama would drive change in ingrained systems and mindsets and leverage the expanse of his knowledge base into plausible solutions. Obama opted to work in a setting where he could have direct impact on the people themselves.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 31 For Obama. relying instead on multiple forms of interpersonal and functional impact. You must be able to inspire and engage. impact their lives. learned first from his mother and reinforced from each key familial influence. It doesn’t pay particularly well. That event was Obama’s formal . He had to work with little to no infrastructure and deliver results in spite of those limitations in order to establish basic credibility. in effect.

Above all. So on that Sunday and in a specific church Obama embraced his faith. He was a part of a community and he would in fact belong. These likenesses indicate that Michelle Obama in fact epitomizes a modern-day feminine force. and as an accomplished individual.25 Michelle Robinson Obama was coming into his own. He seemed clear in his desire to be connected. the compassion of Rosalynn Carter. She grew up in a traditional household. He referred to his mother as one of the most spiritual people he knew. how everyone seems to take to his wife so readily. The definitive grounding we see in Michelle Robinson Obama emanates from her family. Obama met Michelle the summer after his first year of law school while interning at the Chicago firm Michelle worked for. an affiliation. humble life. Obama found what he realized to be a missing element of his life. He respects her as an intellectual partner. though she herself did not experience her spirituality through formal religion. Obama came to understand that unlike his mother. He relays that through the preacher’s poignant message and the congregation’s moving embrace. As part of his community organizing work. he sought a communal connection.27 It is thought that you can judge the self-worth of an individual from the stability of the partner they commit to. She has been said to have the allure of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.32 Right Brain/Left Brain President engagement in a religious faith. Within a formal religious tradition he would find kinship. Not surprising that within the same time frame he fell in love with Michelle Robinson. From that perspective Obama’s esteem seems in a . and through it all stayed true to each other. and a genuine sense of commitment to all that she does. and equally at ease as an accomplished professional.26 Early in her tenure as First Lady. As the service unfolded he found himself touched in a deeply personal way by the experience. the candor of Betty Ford. he was reaching out to local churches. Obama was soon after baptized into the Christian religion. Obama revels at her appeal. in faith. The Robinson family lived a decent. Michelle Obama demonstrated her character depth and broad appeal. Instead. He had been raised to understand and appreciate all religions but not to subscribe to any one set of formal beliefs. and the work /life ethic of Hillary Clinton. In his life history Obama describes one Sunday morning when he attended a particular church service. Newscasters have commented on First Lady Michelle as collectively possessing traits of several former White House matriarchs. her soft side. and now in his personal life. He has described the First Lady as the love of his life. She is comfortable in her beauty. She represented everything he had come to cherish and appreciate. as possessing deep beauty through and through. endured tough times. her parents committed to their marriage and children. in work. a honed internal compass. she in essence practiced her faith through her values. as a wife and mother. She frequently references the impact her family life had on her. one sees in the First Lady integrity.

behaviors. Obama’s maternal grandparents were rock solid in how they cared for their grandson. Obama’s mother and he had an unbreakable bond. All in all. As a young college student he drew from his father ’s past image as he took his first foray into public speaking. a chronology unfolded that led him to where he is today. and comforted by faith and family. driven through work. but also to affirm his plight. Heritage Recapped Obama has had a less than ordinary life journey. His push to the presidency validated his professional reach as Obama became the next of history ’s groundbreaking leaders. in contributing substantively and in legendary fashion. Learning as he did about racism and from the context of his mother’s life perspectives set the tone for how he would become empowered in his own learning. All in all. Barack and Michelle Obama joined to build a family of their own. Stepfather Lolo Soetoro took on the role of a typically committed stepdad but did so in the context of his distinct culture. but by virtue of the continuous and devoted supports he could draw from. yet she herself was a free spirit. Overall. His marriage to Michelle and his resulting fatherhood was his personal affirmation. While they led an average life. he was able to firmly establish his identity and sort an ultimate life direction. Added to what were exceptional hardwired traits. however. schooling.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 33 very good place. Obama’s father may have made a significant impression through relayed family stories and on his lone visit. and Barack Obama’s life would be complete. This is where he would seat himself. Grounded in learning. Living in Indonesia with a loving family as a very young boy afforded him unique exposures through a palpable lens. Obama’s childhood. With daughters Sasha and Malia they would carve out their future together. . professional life. Barack Senior’s lifelong absence left his son to reconcile a primal loss. Everything he came from and all he came to know pointed to the promise of renowned contribution. His mother’s humanitarianism would move him to a world of potential contribution. In addition to Obama’s primary influences there is also the timing of events to consider. he progressively built a leadership base from which to test and hone his values. and eventual spiritual and family connections moved him through his self-discovery. Experiences came into play through sensitive periods and readiness. Obama embraced faith at a propitious moment. Obama was stretched developmentally. His ancestry and exposures are remarkably atypical as each significant influence presented a conundrum. they themselves possessed certain distinctions. his ultimate inner strength was brought to life and his integrated rightand left-brain style thrived. Obama’s work in community organizing helped not only to bring out his influencing skills. and abilities. What follows shows how Obama’s unusual life collage enables his brain to work precisely as it was intended to.

5. realistic. particular to leadership Obama-style? For simplicity. It reasons from whole to parts. and analysis. and with our interpersonal connections. nonverbal. more to the point. to become multidominant. Left brain —The left hemisphere or left brain is our grounded tactician. It is where our verbal and analytical abilities come from. He is open to disparate viewpoints and seeks ultimately to leverage diversity by bringing camps together to fully integrate thoughts. Right brain —The right hemisphere or right brain is our strategist. TEN-POINT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. The right hemisphere is imaginative. The left brain controls sequential and linear thought. and. and holistic. innovator. verbal expression. Interrelationships—While our brain is organized into specific structures. reason.and right-brain characteristics. expression. Each brain hemisphere controls specialized preferences in thinking and behaving. but what do we need to know about how the brain functions and develops that is specific to leadership. or. Our brain’s structure and function stresses interrelationships. Hemispheres of our mind—The brain is divided into two hemispheres: the left and the right. and execute in the moment. the connection of each of these ten points to how our exemplar came to be. The following executive summary relays that knowledge: what leaders need to know about how our brain functions. and visionary. It is concerned with facts. The left brain reasons from part to whole and communicates in names and labels. It helps us see things as they are. with change. with creativity.34 Right Brain/Left Brain President Leadership and the Brain There is much to understanding the human brain. It controls intuitive and emotional thought.and left-brain perspectives rather than through the cultivation of polarized camps. order. 4. full brain engagement comes through a cross-pollination of right.and left-brain interplay — through diversity in experiences and actions. While certain preferences are rooted in one hemisphere or the other. 3.31 Obama leads from right-brain vision. It is ordered. each with areas of primary responsibility. our behavior is the result of a complex interplay among those constructs. logical. A network of fibers connects one hemisphere to the other. 2. allowing for an interplay between both sides of the brain. careful scrutiny. and closure. the information on the brain is broken down into ten basic facts. able to plan. Multidominance—We have the ability to develop strengths in both left. is reflective. discrete parts. . and thinks of the world as it could be. most importantly. from a transformational perspective and from interpersonal connections. quantitative.30 Obama is adept at left-brain logic. Multidominance grows out of continuous exposure to right.28 Obama’s life was one of interrelationships.29 Obama’s is a perspective of unity and commonality. and practical. He is very much attuned to the realities of the present.32 The diversity in Obama. the brain’s tie-ins to leadership. The right brain is concerned with future possibilities.

experiences. lends to his extraordinary multidominant facilities. since we are designed to be social creatures.37 Obama’s heritage and upbringing fostered wellhoned empathy that reinforces his social/emotional success. Based on the ten-point list of what leaders need to know about the brain. Introspection and reflection can enable us to stay grounded during emotionally triggering life events and can help us turn a critical moment from a potential threat to a development opportunity. She engendered in her son a passion for learning and a sense of marvel in the nuances of life. encourages the brain’s natural synergistic process. stable presence in the face of turmoil. we see potentials in Obama’s style and approach.33 Obama has been engaged in a continuous alter-brain workout throughout the course of his life. More specifically. Conversely. 7. we increase its own processing options. exposure to newness and diversity. an alter-brain behavior is defined as a style shift resulting in a new action that. It is not enough to have good intent or to think you know what is best for those around you. trying a new way of responding.34 Novel learning was propelled by Obama’s mother’s intellectual wonder. We also begin to recognize how his . our brain being locked in habitual patterns makes it harder for the brain to embrace novelty. Reflection and self-control —Stress and high-intensity moments can curtail our natural ability to extend beyond our preferences while also causing overreactions in the moment.35 Obama’s life continuously forced him to stretch himself beyond his comfort zone. the many changes Obama encountered further propelled exposure to novelty in a most accelerated fashion. Social/emotional brain—Recent findings about our social/emotional brain suggest just how pivotal our interactions are to a leader’s success. pushes us beyond our habitual ways of doing things and as such is equally brain enhancing. An alterbrain behavior or experience is one that stretches your brain’s existing reach.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership hardwired and gained through distinct influences.36 Obama’s reflective nature affords him a grounded. Novel learning. Stepping out of your comfort zone — An alter-brain behavior. You must demonstrate your understanding through both words and actions to excel in our very social world. when accessed. Additionally. and moments. the degree to which empathy informs our resulting communications and actions is what others are relating to. Novel learning —An alter-brain experience is referred to as novel learning. 9. 35 6. His rise to the very top of the leadership hill further reinforces how socio-emotionally adept he is. Alter-brain behaviors — Leaders can develop their multidominance by engaging in alter-brain (diverse) behaviors and experiences. Novel learning stimulates the brain to develop greater overall potentials. His acumen with the work required of him in community organizing was the first true demonstration of his socio-emotional adeptness. can give either greater depth to a preferred style or complementary breadth to your overall approach. 8. thereby making us more able to deal with change. It has been suggested that when we use our brains to do new and different things. sometimes encouraged by those around him and often out of sheer necessity. 10. Specifically.

to work in a collaborative manner. we could say that what we see in Obama is a rare convergence of several distinct factions that received its potency because they came together all at once. When we encourage the development of a weaker area. and their passion for human rights. intuitive thinking in someone driven more by logic. When Obama faces conflict he is quick to call attention to common ground. As different as his parents were. and to strengthen its own distinctions through collaboration. each side of the brain has commonality —each contains facets of the other’s. The human brain is structured to be synergistic. no doubt. not only does the non-intuit become more intuitive. not to exacerbate (as is the case in a perfect storm) but rather to embellish (leaving us a perfect form). The address centered on the global economic crisis. each shared certain values. I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far. allowing left.and right-brain preferences to develop more fully and in consort. So was true of his grandparents. reflective inner strength. for example. and. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. When reading over the information on nature and nurture. Obama is a leader who is both grounded in the present and able to see the path forward. As different as they were from each other in so many ways. on Obama’s five key influences. each had certain common qualities—their intellect. Delicately timed events and solid supports reinforced his brain’s enhancements. are not simply two factions connected by fibers enabling them to share. and marrying that to the ten-point summary of the brain. I know that.38 Obama’s perfect leadership form comes from the constant synergies exerting force on his development along with the commonality contained within them. We can see evidence of Obama’s aligned brain functioning in his approach to conflict. Rather. but other mental abilities improve as well. The result is full-force leadership. From a definitive set of strong. Note the following excerpt from his February 24. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the com- . you begin to see that Obama’s particular chance nature/nurture combination lent itself to the brain’s optimal development. beliefs. members of his African ancestry. The president was outlining his initial plans and ended with an appeal to work together: Look. changing it to perfect form. varied passed-on traits to a myriad of life encounters. The result was a blend of driven resolve. his was a brain in constant expansion. and social facility. A Leadership-Perfect Form If we put a positive spin on the popularized phrase perfect storm. for example. if we came to know them further. and traits with others in Obama’s immediate circle. that is. address to Congress. 2009. There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. The brain can do this because the two sides of the brain. the left and right hemisphere. his stepfather.36 Right Brain/Left Brain President developmental conundrum actually poised him for leadership success.

and left-brain abilities. He also had distinct left-brain talents. More to the point.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 37 ing months. however.and left-brain behavioral spectrum. charismatic.and left-brain leadership abilities but are seldom adept across the full right. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground. Clinton drew more from his right-brain mystique. Leaders under stress tend to constrict their posture. Obama’s approach to conflict also involves inviting differing opinions. especially when his presidency faced its ultimate crisis. certain gaps can be noted. Former president William Jefferson Clinton could be described as extraordinarily visionary. He is often heard saying that he welcomes opposing views and that “we must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed. He was a strategist and an innovator. though. what truly sets Obama apart is his apparent complete compliment of multidominant behaviors as applied directly to the way he leads. His is a fully integrated right. His brain and his outlook support a position of shared capability. While high-level leaders can be adept at certain right. in the words that are carved into this very chamber. and where we return after those debates are done. Was his myopic stance the work of an overplayed left brain? . if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity. a leader is less likely to shift style from right.to left-brain thinking or vice versa with the ease that Obama does. if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit. and transformational. Talented leaders certainly possess both right. He was verbal and analytical. former president George W. Under stress is precisely when Obama seems to expand his. Ultimately. Would added left-brain grounding have been more to his benefit? In contrast to former president Clinton’s right-brain orientation. concerned with facts and scrutiny. Possibly his Achilles heel was that in the face of pervasive criticisms he became more steadfast in his beliefs. Bush could be characterized as left-brain driven.”39 The president concluded his address stating that common ground would be the ultimate driver for this group in reaching its goal. the threat of impeachment. When under stress this becomes even more apparent. the point was made at the book’s outset that you will instead find that leaders get caught up in their preferences. “something worthy to be remembered. his brain well able to process disparate thoughts and to look for ways to collaborate and reconcile. He was more entrenched in the moment. He was determined. possessing exceptional rightbrain strong suits.”40 Obama clearly has a natural ease with discourse. And if we do — if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis. His most unusual life brain workout enables him to do what others seemingly don’t.and left-brain approach. He tended to reason from part to whole and to communicate through labels. Clinton was in many ways a brilliant leader. He was intuitive and holistic and thought of the world as it could be.

more interconnected. Obama’s extended stable and serious overtones afforded the opportunity for voters to experience him beyond charismatic. Everything a high-profile leader does and says can be easily broadcast for the world to see. In effect. Decisions and actions are therefore scrutinized minute by minute. to move forth and back from right. Acting solely from one’s preferences will leave a leader coming up short. His campaign cornerstone was his “maverick” style. McCain continued to lead from his preference. He was seen as calm in the face of crisis and willing to step up during difficult times. Leaders today are also more exposed. A resolve was heard in his voice. Obama appeared more diverse in ability. impending economic catastrophe was upon us. was nonetheless unchanged in breadth. Alter-brain style shifts and additional traits poised him for broader appeal. if you will. on the other hand. chose a counterbalance in Joe Biden. In essence they are acting from a set of identified strengths to excess (too much of a good thing ). . Leaders must possess further flexibility to draw from. In times of stress we are all inclined to act out of habit. we live in a different world. though intensified. He selected a running mate. Another case in point could be seen in Senator John McCain’s tactics during the 2008 presidential campaign. and operating with faster and faster cycle times. D. What we have gained from the internet in convenience and opportunity has boomeranged back at leaders who must be ready to react. on the other hand. Your appeal and your ability to connect takes place on a twenty-four/seven world stage.C. Leaders in particular will dig in rather than engage their brain power more fluidly. and solutions specific to new demands were added to his platform. McCain’s approach. There are countless ways to be judged at any given moment. while continuing the engaging style that was his hallmark. who was touted as a fellow maverick. Obama. a world that is more demanding. added grounding and formidability. Sarah Palin. Obama positioned himself to be seen as a leader able to make needed accommodations in response to unusual circumstances. engendering greater respect for who he was. Leaders must operate with greater bandwidth in our high-tech/high-speed fishbowl of an existence.and left-brain preferences with ease and agility.38 Right Brain/Left Brain President A risk run by many if not most high-level leaders is to allow certain preferences to become their cornerstones. intensifying his promise to fight for every American. The public became unnerved. maverick style. From that vantage point he vowed to fix a broken Washington. When the election intensified he stepped up references to a maverick approach. The race continued while concurrently. rather than drawing upon a broader sphere of full-brain leadership attributes. Greater sensitivities apply with respect to communications and cultural contexts. Obama. a new-age journalism. the ability to shift style not as an exception but as a rule. In today’s world challenges are intensifying in complexity.

identifying ten guiding behaviors along with specific corresponding traits. Following the review of behaviors and traits as they relate to President Obama. To lead the United States of America at precisely this moment in its history requires full-blown right. The remaining chapters will present a model for right brain/left brain leadership. the fluidity with which Obama transitions between rightand left-brain abilities will be highlighted. demonstrating his abilities within each of its ten guiding behaviors. behaviors. More importantly. behavioral. but in his fundamental leadership operating style. He is primed to address a multitude of issues from the intricate to the nefarious and to do so in our new-age interactive context.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 39 Obama comes to his position with diversity not simply by virtue of his name and race. President Obama’s leadership style will be examined relative to this right brain/left brain model. the book will give specific steps for how you too can become more Obama-like in your leadership approaches. His style represents a working model for the dynamic interplay today’s leaders should aspire in order to meet the challenges of our time. His unusual leadership ability is a blend of expansive social. and intellectual reach. . We move next to the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model. its format. and traits as backdrop for the complete review of our exemplar.and left-brain leadership skill sets like we see in Obama. That is Obama’s leadership-perfect form.

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We ’ve gotta change the game. four of right-brain ability.2 A model that focuses on a leader’s behaviors forces consideration beyond what a leader is doing—goals and objectives—to how a leader enacts such targets. Figure 3. The Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model was first proposed in my book Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact and is explained in its entirety in that text.1 shows the model’s guiding behaviors sorted by right and left abilities along with the two auxiliary behaviors. While it is important to lead based on your particular style.and left-brain propensities. You must be able to routinely extend from that foundation with diversity in both mindset and action. the leadership game has changed and leaders must change with it. The what and how should ideally work in tandem. Instead you must see your inclinations as a foundation to build upon. Translated into the language of leadership. .Chapter 3 Right. Typically the behavioral side of leadership is seen as a personal style separate from what one sets out to accomplish. This chapter will review the model’s highlights and set the stage for a detailed review of President Obama’s right brain/left brain leadership. and two additional support behaviors. —Barack Obama1 A Leadership Model Aptly put in the preceding Obama quote. four of left-brain ability.and Left-Brain Potentials It ’s not just enough to change the players. A model to help frame such a full-spectrum leadership approach is one that draws from right. with equal consideration given to both. the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model identifies ten guiding leadership behaviors. In reality the most effective leaders consider behavior as integral to success. such proclivities can no longer reflect your entire playbook.

Resilient and savvy are auxiliary behaviors. behaviors are strategic. and actions Engaging: To understand and work well with others. They are right.42 Right Brain/Left Brain President Figure 3. and determined to get the desired results . to be the steward and the gauge Assertive: To be upfront. and individuals relative to values. transformational. well-being. teams. and stability. to involve. and to help them take on responsibility Methodical: To plan well. to validate. and assertive.and left-brain enhancing. thoughts. supporting your leadership ability by tending to you personally. behaviors are methodical. to have the long-range view Innovative: To have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint Transformational: To drive change in cultures. expressive. Resilient contributes to your health. direct. innovative. and engaging. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context Grounded: To act with integrity. consistency. and to recognize others.and Left-Brain Ability When leading from the right brain. Savvy speaks to your image and to your ability to negotiate the ever-socrucial cultural landscape that you work from. When leading from the left. and staying power.1 Guiding Behaviors Sorted by Right. Each behavior is defined as follows: Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. grounded.

where are your typical behavioral strengths? Which. Effective leadership begins on the right-brain side of the thinking and acting equation. he did so. he also applied right-brain thinking to examine not merely how to arrest the present crisis. While we would orient from the left. more importantly. But why right brain/left brain leadership and not the other way around? Surely President Obama himself would prefer a model that leads from the left! Politics aside. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with—your external influence Looking at the ten guiding leadership behaviors. To Obama’s credit. stamina. if any behaviors reflect your hard-core preferences? Do you tend to lead more from the left or the right. and mindset—your internal fortitude Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. the orientation of the model seem counterintuitive—that’s intentional.Right. but to think through what it would take to ensure our ultimate financial solvency—how to not let this happen again. leaders need to first look forward to the desired state in order to then tend effectively to the day-to-day. The right brain in essence focuses on the future. He took office during the most tumultuous of economic times. to thrive. in reading. He projected years ahead to how the nation would have to be structured and function across a broad set of measures to truly secure our interests. we need to lead from the right. for example. When it comes to Obama’s leadership he tends to initiate from the right—the brain right. Obama’s leftist label reflects his political party affiliation. We see this right-brain orientation in Obama as he began his presidency. or are you more multidominant? Thinking back to the last difficult leadership situation you had to address. Right Brain / Left Brain: Counterintuitive As you begin to familiarize yourself with the model and how it can help direct you to broader impact. By turning his attention to the long term he envisioned what it would look like for us to be safe and. say.and left-brain abilities. While he tended to the immediate he framed his actions from a right-brain transformational perspective. that is. the model is built around our right. From a leadership perspective.and Left-Brain Potentials 43 Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning. He acted in the moment to ensure that the immediate crisis was well addressed. however. . drawing on our brain’s dualistic and synergistic nature. As the title reflects. The need during a crisis is to deal with that which is most pressing. would any of the behaviors that are not part of your usual way of functioning have helped you achieve a better result? These are the questions to consider as we continue our exploration. while the left brain hones in on present realities. first consider the model’s title.

and be honest about the pitfalls that may lay ahead. I’ve talked a lot about the fundamental weakness in our economy that led us to this day of reckoning. Others believe we haven’t done enough. he showed clear multidominant leadership ability by shifting in an integrated fashion between right-brain future prospects and left-brain present realities. and discoveries that will shape the 21st century. I want to update you on the progress we’ve made. 2009. a future where prosperity is fueled not by excessive debt. but is instead built by skilled. and fleeing profit.44 Right Brain/Left Brain President Though he came under criticism from some for being too farsighted during trying times. In just under three months. Consider the following passage from his April 14. That is the future I know we can have. productive workers. reckless speculation. I want every American to know that each action we take and each policy we pursue is driven by a larger vision of America’s future—a future where sustained economic growth creates good jobs and rising incomes. And many Americans are simply wondering how all of our different programs and policies fit together in a single. . why we’ve done it. In the remainder of his address he spelled out how the nation came to its present catastrophe and how precisely his strategy would take the nation where it needed to be. overarching strategy that will move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. But we also arrived here because of a fundamental weakness in our political system. by sound investments that will spread opportunity at home and allow this nation to lead the world in the technologies. That is the America I see.3 The president’s long-range view. address at Georgetown University as Obama reflected on the first several months of his administration’s work: It has now been twelve weeks since my administration began. His right-brain long-range view informed his immediate crisis response. I want to step back for a moment and explain our strategy as clearly as I can. his right-brain thinking. and what we have left to do. innovations. He detailed three key responses to address the then current economic crisis along with five strategic pillars for longrange prosperity. And I think even our critics would agree that at the very least. I know that some have accused us of taking on too much at once. And most of all. So today. The president concluded his address with the following statements: This brings up one final point I’d like to make today. we’ve been busy. was informing his here-and-now (left-brain) actions. we have responded to an extraordinary set of economic challenges with extraordinary action—action that has been unprecedented in both its scale and its speed. He worked from an accurate perception of the present as it related to the ultimate desired state. I want to talk about what we’ve done.

acting with consistency. too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. and to the many generations whose lives will be affected for good or for ill because of what we do here. He demonstrated depth and breadth of ability across the brain-behavior spectrum. The challenges are too great. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility—to ourselves. confronting the flawed mindsets that his administration is committed to eliminating. It’s more than most congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime. The right-brain behaviors are for a leader.Right. noting possible pitfalls or problems to come. When a crisis hits. I know how difficult it is for members of Congress in both parties to grapple with some of the big decisions we face right now. with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died away and the media coverage has moved on. and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers. . and transparency. reaching out directly to his audience. to take the long-range view. Right-brain guiding leadership behaviors are facilitators of a leader’s desired state. there’s all too often a lurch from shock to trance. He was grounded. The left-brain behavior expressive was reflected in the clarity and detail with which he spoke.4 Consider in this brief address the numerous right. and actions. His overall tone was engaging. he was assertive.and left-brain leadership behaviors exhibited by the president. to the men and women who sent us here. There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way. Surely he demonstrated the ability to be strategic. Woven into his strategies were the methodical specifics of his plans—a three-pronged immediate response tied to five long-term strategies. looking out to possibilities. But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times. This one excerpt is consistent with the demeanor and tenor Obama showed throughout the early stages of his presidency. They were fresh and progressive. We also saw decided left-brain shifts. His plans reflected innovation. The stakes are too high. From those possibilities opportunities for change are identified and buy-in is sought. There is also an impatience that characterizes this town—an attention span that has only grown shorter with the twenty-four-hour news cycle. He began his address from that perspective.and Left-Brain Potentials 45 For too long. This can’t be one of those times. His right-brain behaviors are well in motion. The manner in which he constructed his address was transformational as he sought to drive change in values. Lastly. leading from the right. The acronym for the right-brain behaviors is SITE (Strategic. A Leader’s Line of SITE Looking more closely at the ten guiding leadership behaviors we begin with the right-brain behaviors. stability. thoughts.

He verses himself in a broad historic context and grounds himself in present truths. you will also come to see the complexities of leveraging a particular leadership behavior. Strategic behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Intuitive—knowing things instinctively Thoughtful—giving careful consideration Insightful—seeing clearly into the nature of complex subject matter Anticipatory—aware of the eminent Shrewd—clever and preemptive Big-picture oriented—taking extended aspects of a situation into account Global—seeking input that generates a worldwide perspective and application Holistic—taking all aspects of a situation into account Theoretical—able to speculate Conceptual—able to form parts into a whole Innovative: To have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint. of right-brain behaviors as a leader’s Line of SITE. positions. As such he is well able to then formulate transformation perspectives—how to effect needed change. Obama’s scholarly penchants takes him to the study of relevant knowledge. and missed prospects. and Engaging). They allow a leader to imagine a vision for the future. accomplishments. he possesses the interpersonal ability to engage. to past presidents’ reigns. Finally. but still in all. then. As you examine overall behaviors and more specific component traits you can begin to get an appreciation for the full scope of each behavior’s potential impact. Ten traits are provided for each of the leadership behaviors to show a complete range of qualities possible for a given behavior. Through mastery of behavioral nuances the leader can attain depth competence. Represented by the icon of a binocular. He can extend beyond what has occurred to what we should aspire toward. Line of SITE behaviors enable the leader the view of looking out over the horizon to see the potentials as well as eminent threats. Ideally. He solicits differing and expert opinions. Transformational. Innovative behavioral traits are: • Pioneering—forging new ground • Risk-taking—taking a chance .46 Right Brain/Left Brain President Innovative. For now.5 Obama has a keen ability to project ahead. Chapter 4 will further and precisely detail Obama’s Line of SITE abilities. this time with the corresponding traits that detail each leadership behavior’s nuances. to have the long-range view. Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. using both past successes and failures to inform his thinking. Think. he himself possesses the intuition to take the final strategic leap. for example. Line of SITE behaviors are defined again below.

teams. and driving the work in progress. the left-brain skill sets assume the view of looking over your world. Left-brain leadership . monitoring. and actions. While looking over your charge you are concerned with present realities. to involve.and Left-Brain Potentials • • • • • • • • Playful—fun-loving Creative –able to generate original ideas or concepts Novelty-seeking—interested in the new or unknown Imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely Experimental—interested in trial and error Curious—eager to know Spontaneous—living in the moment Unconventional—willing to consider the unusual 47 Transformational: To drive change in cultures. the near term. in small steps Adaptive—able to change Mentoring—able to teach and coach Alignment-driven—helping to unify others around directions and goals Engaging: To understand and work well with others. and to recognize others and to help them take on responsibility. and individuals relative to values. to validate. You are communicating about the work and providing appropriate updates and specifics. thoughts. Engaging behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Inquisitive—probing further.Right. When you are looking over you are organizing. Transformational behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Open to learning—interested in knowledge Assimilative—bringing people and constructs together Attuned—keyed into current realities Ambiguity-allowing—able to deal with the uncertainties of change Facilitative—operating as a catalyst Opportunity-conscious—looking for appropriate prospects Incremental—working progressively. especially into others’ thoughts Listening—paying attention for accurate understanding Respectful—having consideration for others Responsive—addressing the concerns of others Inclusive—involving everyone Collaborative—working along with others Empathic—understanding others’ perspectives Empowering—giving responsibility to others Charismatic—enthusing others through personal magnetism Motivational—inspiring others in positive action6 The MEGA Mind Represented by the icon of a magnifying glass.

Grounded. He is analytical and able to work at the detail level. Left-brain leadership is about your in-the-moment planning.48 Right Brain/Left Brain President targets the sheer volume of a leader’s day-to-day tactical demands. The MEGA Mind behaviors and corresponding traits are shown in their entirety as follows: Methodical: To plan well. His communication abilities are a trademark. Left-brain behaviors are your MEGA Mind. The acronym for these behaviors is MEGA (Methodical. He is able to move from vision to plan. and Assertive). It is about what you say and how you say it. Along with his rightbrain strong suits Obama has specific left-brain leadership abilities as well. His ability to act from stability and integrity are acknowledged pluses. Chapter 5 will further and precisely detail Obama’s left-brain MEGA Mind. and he seemed to pass these first-round confrontations. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives. Expressive behavioral traits are: Prepared—giving the necessary forethought to formal and informal messages Articulate—able to write and speak with clarity Coherent—able to write and speak logically Concise—able to write and speak succinctly Erudite—able to express yourself from the basis of scholarly knowledge Presentable—having a professional presence and demeanor Passionate—having intensity and/or enthusiasm with respect to your subject matter • Personable—having an appropriately favorable demeanor • • • • • • • . Obama’s resolve was tested a number of times early in his presidency. especially at this moment in time when public trust had been severely eroded. Methodical behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Task oriented—attentive to assignments Detail oriented—attentive to discrete parts of assignments Organized—orderly and systematic Effective—producing workable solutions and results Focused—able to establish and attend to priorities Procedural—using systems and processes Sequential—cognizant of the likely order of things Logical—rational and reasonable. recognizing what makes the best sense Analytical—breaking an entity into its parts Factual—basing assertions on tangible data and evidence Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context. Expressive. Left-brain skill sets help you to stabilize situations and reach ascribed goals.

When properly leveraged.and Left-Brain Potentials • Persuasive—able to make a compelling point • Interesting—provoking thought and/or holding others’ attention 49 Grounded: To act with integrity. have an inward focus. consistency.Right. and attention to a greater good poise him well for certain resilient strong suits. Obama’s generally calm and encouraging demeanor. and determined to get the desired results. while acting with greater savvy enables you to understand which style shifts are required in any given situation. and stability. As you become more resilient you are more able to act from a broader range of leadership styles. resilient and savvy. direct. His swift ascent to the very top of the political ladder along with his historic . Assertive behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Purposeful—determined and definite in your goals Confident—assured about your capability to reach desired goals Tenacious—unrelenting Driven—staying determined to reach goals and get results Delegating—able to assign and resource the work appropriately Decisive—able to make sound decisions Courageous—willing to face challenges and difficulties Candid—upfront and direct Confrontational—able to work through a conflict Closure-seeking—seeing things through and pushing for conclusions7 The Plus Factors The final two guiding leadership behaviors are called the Plus Factors. to be the steward and the gauge. the Plus Factors are right-and left-brain enhancing. The Plus Factors. his acceptance of differences. They assume the view of looking in at one’s own fortitude and influence as represented by the icon of a mirror. Grounded behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Composed –able to control your emotions Approachable—having a manner that allows others to reach out to you Genuine—sincere Pragmatic—practical and realistic Cautious—sensible and careful Questioning—seeking assurances and/or getting to the bottom of issues Stable—steady and consistent in your views and approaches Loyal—committed to your people and responsibilities Established —having proven competence Trustworthy—able to be counted on Assertive: To be upfront.

teams. and mindset—your internal fortitude. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with— your external influence.2. and think freely • Tolerant—accepting of differences • Flexible—able to adjust or accommodate when necessary • Spiritual—seeing beyond yourself to how you contribute in a broader sense. or involvements Promotive—effectively lobbying for your and others’ issues and recognition Assimilating—able to integrate into groups. aware of and managing your health • Fulfilled—feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about your life • Relaxed—able to decompress from stress • Environmental—making nature a part of your personal and professional development Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates.50 Right Brain/Left Brain President success speaks to his savvy. There you see four key processes representing the what of leading as follows: . stamina. block out distractions. Savvy behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Astute—perceptive concerning people and circumstances Diplomatic—using tact in your sensitive interactions Timely—aware of the right moment to make a point or deal with an issue Subtle—able to work indirectly to influence people and situations Culturally oriented—grounded in the culture of your group or organization and acting from that knowledge in how you influence those within that culture Networking—developing personal and professional relationships that are mutually beneficial Coalition-building—bringing together those who share your causes. or cultures Visible—being regularly seen8 Model in Context The full model is displayed in Figure 3. accountable to a greater good • Physically fit—practicing sound lifestyle habits. Obama’s Plus Factor abilities will be examined fully in Chapter 6 of this book. views. The Plus Factors along with their corresponding traits are described as follows: Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning. Resilient behavioral traits are: • Positive—having constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities • Emotionally sound—able to cope with stress and difficulties as demonstrated by your behavior • Clear thinking—able to sort through confusions.

along with the four key processes.Right. the guiding behaviors point us to the how. the ten guiding leadership behaviors sorted by positioning: looking out. His context was one of extreme urgency and unprecedented potential fallout. and looking in. looking over.and Left-Brain Potentials • • • • Visioning—where you are headed Operationalizing—your plan Implementing—getting the desired results Declaring—reflecting on outcomes 51 These key processes reflect the context of the leader’s work. Obama assumed office during a global economic crisis that required aggressive and immediate attention along with multilevel collaboration at home and abroad.to left-brain actions or vice versa to achieve maximum leadership impact. doing enough to keep the situation from worsening while acting with enough impact to begin to reverse looming threats.2 Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Complete) . From the model you can now see. While the key processes represent the what of leadership.to left-brain abilities illustrate some of the limitless possibilities for shifting style from right. Dotted lines from right. Such a circumstance required rapid incremental cycling through the key processes. Figure 3.

grounded (to act with stability). but not panic. expressive. and assertive (to be upfront. for example. when accessed. because we already have cases here in the United States. who accesses certain engaging traits as well can ultimately expect more from those she is holding accountable since she is now involving and recognizing them as well. at his 100th-day press conference Obama was asked.” Notice the range of behaviors demonstrated in his response. And I think that we have to make sure that we recognize that how we respond—intelligently. yin and yang behavioral reach. transformational. An alter-brain behavior is a style shift resulting in a new action that. can give either greater depth to a preferred style or complementary breadth to your overall approach.and second-tier behaviors can be seen in his initial handling of the H1N1 flu virus outbreak. an enhancement occurs. A dynamic interplay is created when you shift your style from right brain to left or vice versa. . this is a cause for deep concern. A typically assertive leader. Dynamic interplays are motivational.52 Right Brain/Left Brain President Dynamic Interplays Referred to as a dynamic interplay. He is a visionary. I’ve consulted with our public health officials extensively. you are accessing what is defined in the model as an alter-brain behavior. meet more unconventional challenges. psychologically interesting to those around you. first of all. when that might be appropriate. He can influence a wider audience. can you talk about whether you think it’s time to close the border with Mexico. when a leader is based in his preferred style and able to access alternative means of impact. able to drive change and to draw others in. and whether—under what conditions you might consider quarantining. 2009. The breadth of his leadership is seen as he extends from his primary inclinations to act from a second tier of alterbrain behaviors. On April 29. an adept communicator. in some cases an hour—hour-to-hour basis. Obama shifts his style often and with ease to be methodical (to detail a plan). Individual contributors find encouragement and added opportunities from varied orientations of a leader rather than leaders who are predictably monotonous in approach. systematically. When you shift style to access one of the model’s behaviors that is outside your usual mode of operating or seek to access traits not before part of your leadership repertoire. and determined). and engaging. it would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out. as I said. Obama’s easy access between first. and as a result achieve groundbreaking results. and what public health officials have to say—will determine in large part what happens. From their perspective. Obama’s preferences in the behaviors strategic. “With the flu outbreak spreading and worsening. on a day-to-day basis.9 Think of alter-brain behaviors as making you more interesting to work with and as positively provocative of those around you. direct. for example. based on science. At this point they have not recommended a border closing. Others feel energized by a leader with diverse. Well. One could see. A dynamic interplay is a well-executed balancing act that generates healthy tension for others to respond to.

keep them out of school. for example. they are all on the phone. is to make sure that we are maintaining great vigilance. But the most important thing right now that public health officials have indicated is that we treat this the same way that we would treat other flu outbreaks. Now that ’s why I asked for an additional $1. so that we can prepare in the eventuality that we have to do more than we’re doing currently. we’ve got 50 million courses of antiviral drugs. then we might have to—then I think we wouldn’t see the kind of alert levels that we’re seeing. and individual families start taking very sensible precautions that—that can make a huge difference. to coordinate and make sure that there’s timely reporting. If this was a strain that we were familiar with. newly installed Secretary Sebelius of Health and Human Services.10 In his opening first few statements. that we’re allocating resources. His acknowledgments of those whose previous efforts advanced our present-day cause along with his requests to citizens to take . don’t get on an airplane. If your child is sick. with the Bush administration. cover your mouth when you cough. that we are able track them effectively. so that they ’re in place. He used clear expressive analogies and straightforward statements. we don’t yet know how it will respond to that. as well as made sure that additional supplies are there on the border. So those are the steps that I think we need to take right now. If you are sick. But understand that because this is a new strain. If you are feeling certain flu symptoms. He showed assertive determination. don’t get on a— any system of public transportation where you’re confined and you could potentially spread the virus. with the World Health Organization. I do want to compliment Democrats and Republicans who worked diligently back in 2005 when the bird flu came up. So we have to take additional precautions. in the event that they ’re needed. Obama was grounded—noting a serious but not catastrophic circumstance and providing assurances of the vigilance with which the issue was being addressed. just understanding that because this is a new strain. with all public-health officials across the states.Right. We’re coordinating closely with state and local officials. that everybody responds appropriately when cases do come up. So wash your hands when you shake hands. Obama’s decisions and proactive measures reflect strategic prudence. I know it sounds trivial. He spoke to methodical details. to make sure that we had beefed up our infrastructure and our stockpiles of antiviral drugs. For example. essentially take out some additional insurance.5 billion so that we can make sure that everything is in place. The key now. our acting CDC director. So the government is going to be doing everything that we can. stay home. on a daily basis. And I think the Bush administration did a good job of creating the infrastructure so that we can respond. plans. we have to be cautious. that as new cases come up. I think. like Tamiflu.and Left-Brain Potentials 53 We have ramped up screening efforts. should a worst-case scenario play out. but it makes a huge difference. Secretary Napolitano at Department of Homeland Security. and precautions. I was part of a group of legislators who worked.

What I’ve said—and I will repeat—is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. greater fluidity in thought and approach. in spite of the array of issues. albeit enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. Obama was concerned about cultural matters in a different manner. whether regarding the potential pandemic or any one of a number of equally paramount issues. This pyramid reflects the various audiences a leader must attend to and influence. They were being called upon to redefine their values and approaches. Certainly there were policy disagreements. you could see intentions that were aimed directly at our cultural disconnects. The Republicans’ entrenched stance was not boding well for them. A leader’s primal audience is the cultural perspective from which he leads. how they would continue to make an impact—was called into question.54 Right Brain/Left Brain President specific precautions reflect an engaging posture. I don’t think that’s just my opinion. Conversely. Obama continuously drew upon a wide range of guiding leadership behaviors and did so with seamless integration. Born from Culture Upon further examination of the Right Brain/Left Brain Model you see a pyramid at the center. and we as a nation were straying from ours. In Obama’s view the United States had strayed from its founding cultural principles. And that’s why I put an end to these practices. criticism that seemed to center on Republicans’ continuing to act from an ingrained position. Times required greater breadth in perspective. I am absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do—not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various de- . seemed more focused on the multiple facets to his leadership ability than on agreement or disagreement with specific decisions. It needed to return to those principles. Responding to the tumultuous climate at the outset of his presidency. many seemed at ease with Obama. Consider Obama’s response to a second question asked at his 100th-day press conference regarding the practice of torture. Controversies concerning the president were typically centered on proposed government spending and the level of government involvement in business. but in terms of his leadership persona. I do believe that it is torture. along with the ability to lead in the face of complex ambiguities. that ’s the opinion of many who’ve examined the topic. however. The public’s overall yardstick on the president’s success. Interesting to note was that there were relatively moderate criticisms of the president during his first 100 days. As he set his policies. the Republican Party’s leadership was at that same time falling under pointed criticism. Culture is tied to values. The culture of their party—what they stood for. While the Republicans were being asked to reinvent the party’s culture. The party was viewed by many as mired in their defeat and polarized in position.

In some cases. Leaders who tend to their audiences know full well that culture is primal to the work at hand. It’s not surprising that public opinion of our Congress has steadily declined over the past several years. I think.Right. While the United States is made up of numerous cultural factions. and I think the American people over time will recognize that it is better for us to stick to who we are. and bodies. Teams and Individuals At the next level of the pyramid is the word teams. it may be harder. Obama’s intent to place culture front and center is an attempt to reright the ship. it takes away a critical recruitment tool that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have used to try to demonize the United States and justify the killing of civilians.” when the—the entire British—all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat. and make us safer over the long term. But part of what makes us. and over time. even when we’re taking on an unscrupulous enemy. Organizational cultures are most effective when they emanate from a single and unified point. Obama must also work with . but failing to align through an overarching cultural imperative is another. not just when it’s easy. because it will put us in a—in a position where we can still get information. And—and—and the reason was that Churchill understood. offices. in ways that were consistent with who we are. The president’s teams include all branches of government. I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British. even when it’s hard. So this is a decision that I am very comfortable with. that corrodes what ’swhat’s best in a people. At the same time. but because we could have gotten this information in other ways—in ways that were consistent with our values. from his own staff to Congress and federal and state government agencies. during World War II.11 The president’s fundamental right-brain strategic intent and complementary left-brain assertive confrontation of the matter of torture is tied directly to the cultural realignment he is seeking. The public saw the lack of cultural grounding and reacted. And—and so I strongly believe that the steps that we’ve taken to prevent these kind of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term.and Left-Brain Potentials 55 tainees who were subjected to this treatment. The culture of a nation is no different. And it makes us—it puts us in a much stronger position to work with our allies in the kind of international coordinated intelligence activity that can shut down these networks. there must be alignment with originating cultural premises. And Churchill said. still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals. Party differences are one thing. when London was being bombed to smithereens. It corrodes the character of a country. you start taking shortcuts. “We don’t torture. had 200 or so detainees. Self-serving perspectives in direct opposition to any lead culture undermine the fabric of its society.

what you do is to make your best arguments. you know. you know. And so.S. individuals range from the array of people he interfaces with one-on-one along with the collective body of U. you know. This metaphor has been used before. Obama’s nature is fundamentally collaborative.56 Right Brain/Left Brain President teams of international leaders as he did at the 2009 G-20 Economic Summit.12 Leaders like Obama who are committed stewards are inclined to work through their teams. This is a refreshingly upfront perspective. And that hasn’t happened as much as I would have liked. it’s not a speedboat. sobered by the fact that change in Washington comes slow.C. Humbled by the—humbled by the fact that the presidency is extraordinarily powerful. turn on a switch and suddenly. From his response we see that there is more work to be done engaging Team D. or one of us sitting at home watching him on television. citizens. you know what. let’s take a timeout on some of the political games. For Obama. These qualities bode well for someone who has complex teams to lead. He was asked what had troubled him most in his first 100 days in office. I would like to think that everybody would say. we may not see all the consequences of that change a week from now or three months from now. I’d say less troubled but. is to be clear about what we can expect from him and equally clear about what he expects from us. or twenty years from now. our kids will be able to look back and say that was when we started getting serious about clean energy. one that fosters personal responsibility and accountability both of the leader and of the individuals a leader serves. The same reporter asked him what humbled him. Obama’s tie to his citizens comes across in a follow-up to the question about what troubled him. to learn from and reconcile discrepant views. And so I can’t just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want—(laughter)—or— (chuckles)—or. Congress falls in line. The top level of the pyramid represents the individuals a leader impacts. if we can move this big battleship a few degrees in a different direction. you know. and then we can start running for something next year. And so the way we are constantly thinking about this issue of how to bring about the changes that the American people need is to— is to say. Here is his reply. whether an individual is one of his own staff. Here is his response. listen hard to what other people have to say and coax folks in the right direction. Obama’s response to a third question asked at his 100th-day press conference speaks poignantly to his perspective on teams. but this—the ship of state is an ocean liner. that’s when health care started to become more efficient . but we are just part of a much broader tapestry of American life and there are a lot of different power centers. Obama’s position with respect to individuals. but ten years from now. focus our attention for at least this year. He is able to work with diverse groups. a foreign leader. That there is still a certain quotient of political posturing and bickering that takes place even when we’re in the middle of really big crises.

that’s when we became serious about raising our standards in education. a recognition that we’re not going to solve all these problems overnight. I think. by the American people who have shown extraordinary patience and. Turning specifically to Obama’s right-brain inclinations. Chapter four4 will examine in greater depth Obama’s Line of SITE leadership—which traits he employs to be strategic. transformational. to the media reportage on a day-to-day basis. Obama well tends to the model’s cascading audiences. And I’m—I ’m humbled. And—and so—I—I have a much longer time horizon than I think you do when you’re a candidate or if you’re listening. .and Left-Brain Potentials 57 and affordable. He places cultural matters front and center. innovative. Through this chapter’s cursory explanation of the model’s components and premises we see that Obama is overall on target in his leadership approach.13 Whether he is asking for our patience with the problems the nation is facing or asking us to cover our mouths when we cough to prevent the spread of the flu. and engaging. last. and ultimately attempts to engage individuals. works to build productive teams. I think.Right. Obama is clearly reaching out and connected to the individuals he leads in a more direct manner than others before him.

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Such a leader can take us to an expanded future state. From that sagacity comes comprehensive understanding and ultimately sound judgments about both the current and desired state. innovators like Michael Dell. and light. still believe in an America where anything’s possible—they just don’t think their leaders do. He can picture the possibilities. . we see an important insight. motion. When a leader’s thought process is born of possibilities. one much better than we had before. is the right brain at work. They are perceptive and instinctive.Chapter 4 Obama: Leading from the Right? Strategic Intent Americans . He notes that the people themselves had not given . —Barack Obama1 A leader with a well developed Line of SITE is inclined to think in terms of possibilities. Adept strategic thinkers also rely on a sixth sense to know the realities of the present. a broad net of potential is cast. . and Steve Jobs drove the creation of technologies that have forever altered the way we think and live. There was Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the new world. Sir Isaac Newton gave us fundamental bases in mathematics. a sign of the times as referenced by Obama. Gandhi reframed human rights reform with the power of peaceful protest. Such a leader works to chart his course in the most forward-thinking of directions. Bill Gates. What other visionaries stand out in your mind? Obama’s right-brain Line of SITE is well developed. what we should aspire toward. In the quote at the outset of this chapter. More recently. aware of their surroundings. He can see the way forward. Think of the impetus such great strategic moments and minds have afforded us. They are not likely to misread the tea leaves or to underestimate obstacles and threats. To be driven by what could be. beginning with his honed strategic perspective. Obama has keen vision and foresight.

and decide accordingly. deliberate over impacts. for our nation’s leaders to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people. Specifically. As some criticize him for taking on too much and others for not moving fast enough. she must draw from the following strategic leadership traits: • • • • • • Intuitive—knowing things instinctively Thoughtful—giving careful consideration Insightful—seeing clearly into the nature of complex subject matter Anticipatory—aware of the eminent Shrewd—clever and preemptive Big-picture-oriented—taking extended aspects of a situation into account . carefully. playing them for all they are worth. and have a long-range view. those they empowered to represent them were. strategy and patience. Each day it seems different circumstances are unfolding and Obama is being tested. One such sign of the time is health care. What we are uncovering.60 Right Brain/Left Brain President up. Obama’s strategic mindset was initially shaped by this foundational imperative. and systematically. he will stay the course. He will instead continue to push on after his vision. He will keep his eye on the present as he considers the future and will right the ship as he goes. he needed to reinstill faith in government. there are concerns that the Obama administration is taking on too much. about Obama’s strategic compass is that it will guide him aptly. to simultaneously realign our culture. To be strategic a leader must think in a proactive rather than reactive manner. were not standing in the way of the future. but through a matrix that takes time. work to settle the present. Obama is well rooted in that which is strategic. From that insight Obama recognized that while working toward next steps he must. This is the kind of leader you want in these most challenging times. It is interesting to be writing about this president’s leadership ability as he sets out on his leadership journey. In fact. and at such a complicated and troubled time in our nation’s history. The super-harged political machines are preying on those insecurities. according to Obama. though. Obama should not be expected to ram things past the opposition. in parallel path. toward the greater possibilities. He will not likely sway in reactive fashion. He is not working in laundry list fashion. a matter that has brought heated debates to the forefront. He would be more inclined to work progressively. rebuild faith in government. He leverages his strategic strong suits to accurately know the present and to progressively aspire toward an advanced state. he will need time to work these interrelated urgencies in consort. To accomplish what he seems to be setting out after. even in the face of an unnerved public. People are becoming unnerved. and tend to the plethora of pressing policy matters. The people. He will thoughtfully examine the circumstances around him. As we move through this section on strategic leadership you will come to see how the ten traits of this critical initiating leadership behavior are a natural part of Obama’s persona. be visionary. If he was to move the country from where it was toward change.

and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive. the next quarter. government didn’t supplant private enterprise. In each case. but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. even as it cuts back on programs we don’t need. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation. Now we must be that nation again. critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day. We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril. And all the while. the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy. Now is the time to act boldly and wisely—to not only revive this economy. and the time to take charge of our future is here. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. giving careful consideration to both how the country came to its current crisis and how our past approaches took us beyond our challenges to next levels of success.2 In this excerpt we see several strategic traits in Obama. He is holistic and conceptual. He is insightful. health care. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the midst of civil war. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway.Obama • • • • Global—seeking input that generates a worldwide perspective and application Holistic—taking all aspects of a situation into account Theoretical—able to speculate Conceptual—able to form parts into a whole 61 Going back to the very start of Obama’s presidency. That is why. Well that day of reckoning has arrived. In the wake of war and depression. and claimed opportunity from ordeal. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves. it catalyzed private enterprise. where we failed to look beyond the next payment. this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. We can’t afford to ignore our long-term challenges. to address the . 2009. able to see clearly into the nature of complex subject matter. that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity. address to Congress: We have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity. or the next election. For history tells a different story. the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle class in history. an American on the moon. He is thoughtful. landing on a strategy that is multipronged. consider the following statement the new president made in his February 24. and education. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry.

on bad credit and inflated home prices and over-leveraged banks. In a second example Obama continues to explain his overarching strategy for economic recovery with big-picture orientation. I did not come here to pass our problems on to the next president or the next generation—I’m here to solve them. at interrelated parts that must come together uniformly to secure future solvency. We cannot wait to build this foundation. we must build this recovery on a foundation that lasts—on a 21stcentury infrastructure and a green economy with lower health care costs that create millions of new jobs and new industries. And we must not use the need to confront them as an excuse to keep ignoring the long-term threats to our prosperity: the cost of our health care and our oil addiction. I’m here to start building an economy and a prosperity that lasts. on schools that prepare our children to compete and thrive. . The truth is that these problems in the financial market. Obama addresses members of the Business Roundtable on March 12. and it hurts us all in the end. One leg represents intent to decrease our dependence on foreign oil while also tending more directly to our environmental problems. 2009. and ensuring that we don’t have more crises like this in the future. You see. Putting off these investments for another four years or eight years or twelve years or twenty years would be to continue the same irresponsibility that led us to this point. health care. We can’t continue to base our economy on reckless speculation and spending beyond our means. And it will make our recovery more fragile and our future less secure. as acute and urgent as they are. or because I’m a glutton for punishment. The second leg seeks to reform an inefficient and financially burdensome health-care system while ensuring inclusion of all citizens. if you will. independence. Obama looks with vigilance at the whole of the nation. And that’s a future I don’t accept—not for my children. Obama communicates a direction that takes multiple aspects of the current economic situation into account—a threelegged stool. we cannot go back to endless cycles of bubble and bust. and viable contributions of our young people. and education in tandem.62 Right Brain/Left Brain President environment. Instead.3 In his speech to this key business audience. The final leg—education—aims to build and sustain our intellectual might while securing the growth. This crisis teaches us that such activity is not the creation of lasting wealth—it’s the illusion of prosperity. our education deficit and our fiscal deficit. on businesses that are free to invest in the next big idea or breakthrough discovery. Rather than moving through the current economic crisis with a quick-fix or singular solution. are only part of what threatens our economy. and not for yours. Now. I’m doing so because they’re fundamental to our economic growth. I’m not choosing to address these additional challenges just because I feel like it. It would be exactly what Washington has done for decades.

President: I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. when Obama was asked about his decision to shut down the Guantanamo prison and change the way prisoners are handled there. Interviewer: Some of it being organized by at least a few people who have been released from Guantanamo. He is theoretical and global— speculating how a change to our current practices can positively impact our position at home and abroad. Then I think charities will do just fine.4 Here you see more of Obama’s thoughtful consideration and insightful scrutiny. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment which means there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against us and our interests around the world. Now do these folks deserve Miranda rights—do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not. to get banks lending again. He is decidedly shrewd. That’s why I said it’s going to take us a year. He looks at the situation carefully.Obama 63 Moving from the economy. 2009. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy. The facts don’t marry him out.”5 . interview on the television program 60 Minutes. It hasn’t made us safer. is a financial crisis in an economy that’s contracting. this time with respect to a national security matter. responsible decisions about how we approach the closing of Guantanamo? Absolutely. With intuitive sense Obama notes probable fallout from staying the present course. deliberate. Interviewer: A few weeks ago Vice President Cheney said essentially that your willingness to shut down Guantanamo and to change the way prisoners are treated and interrogated was making America weaker and more vulnerable to attack. televised press conference about the impact of the Obama tax plan on charitable contributions from the wealthy—would the plan curtail giving? Obama replied. seeing beyond its discrete components to the nature and essence of the matter. in the next example we see additional nuances of Obama’s strategic thinking. clever and preemptive in attempting to reverse the tide of negative perceptions as it relates to United States’s image and safety. not surprising you know. to get businesses opening their doors again. He was questioned during a March 24. In a final example we see Obama once again leading from the strategic right. But are we going to have to make a series of careful. I think that the Vice President has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can’t somehow reconcile our core values—our constitution—our belief that we don’t torture with our national security interests. and to get people back to work again. From his intuitive awareness Obama is able to be anticipatory. This next example comes from a March 22. President: Well there is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals and who are swept up and we never did a good job of sorting through that. 2009. seeing imminent favorable consequences of new actions— closing one aspect of anti-American sentiment. “I’ll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving.

. to be curious. When Obama encounters a problem. Yes we can. We are expected to fit in. Obama will call upon experts. While we come into the world wide-eyed. through his unusual life experiences and from the free-spirited character of his mother. In short. —Barack Obama6 To think from one’s imagination is the hallmark of a right-brain innovative approach. to be playful or creative. He is phenomenological—seeking to comprehend the nature of an experience. As leaders when we come up against a challenge or an obstacle we are often expected to push past it. and to invent. or an obstacle. to overcome it rather than to reinvent our approach. to experiment. More than most of us. The key point here is that he is both disposed to innovative thought and sees it as a valued step in one’s thinking process. Obama grew up encouraged to produce and to play—to accomplish and to marvel. his first response is to ponder it—to consider it in the broadest sense. Pablo Picasso once said. his artistic side remained. was socialized to innovate.64 Right Brain/Left Brain President Here we see another approach that extends beyond the immediate. he is a true innovator. Propelled by vision and armed with a creative spirit all his own. He learned how to suppose. tangible accomplishment is rewarded. Obama pushes beyond his present existence to imagine what could be. on the other hand. . and get our work done. spontaneous. He learned the importance of structure and discipline and also when it was time to stop and take in all that was around him. a dead end. not merely attend to its facade.”7 As adults. Most of us are typically socialized out of our creative sense. we are encouraged to conform. bursting with childlike wonder. a wall came down in Berlin. a trending away from surface remediation. “Every child is an artist. When he finds himself lacking the wherewithal to push the creative envelope and/or when urgency is a factor he will bring in others who can get through the issue more fully and with efficiency. How many times throughout your life can you recall being encouraged to forge new ground. An Innovative Approach A man touched down on the moon. Instead of looking at one aspect of his tax plan he looks more broadly to the economy overall as the driver of discrete impacts. He grew up experiencing side by side the need to be both convergent and divergent in his thinking. He learned to open his mind up to a world waiting to be understood. to dream. Traditional education favors structure over inventiveness. be serious. coalescing high-powered think tanks to drive needed innovation. Obama. a world was connected by our own science and imagination . He is less inclined to react and more likely to seek alternative or novel solutions. or unconventional? These are not the typical adult emphases. His strategic purpose can then guide the path chosen. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. We see root cause thinking. his innovative sense was kept in the forefront and as a result. We are often taught discipline at the expense of ingenuity. . In each case in point Obama is able to read into a situation.

in-the-moment thinking. More importantly. and spontaneous. He is spontaneous. interested in the new and uncommon. His inquisitiveness is fundamental to his personality. Whether talking to a concerned citizen at a town hall meeting. he will joke with the media or poke fun at himself in interviews. his inner child.”8Obama’s inner child has been continuously nurtured throughout his life and taught to coexist with and to enhance his adult executive brain. that of being pioneering and risk taking. Some could question whether such an attribute is presidential. His right-brain intensity fosters an absorbed concentration indicative of spontaneous. willing to consider the unusual as evidenced by his openness to people. if you will. poise Obama for two more innovative traits. We also see that he is curious—he is eager to know and to understand. less in the sense that he takes life as it comes (not something remotely possible for one in his position). In Obama’s case it is an endearing aspect of his relational depth. Creativity author Stephen Nachmanovitch said.Obama 65 The right-brain innovative behavior means to have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint. His approach to . views. He is novelty seeking. In a sense. more fully and broadly engaged. curious. We saw evidence of Obama’s groundbreaking and venturesome sides surface as he took office. This boylike quality is reflective of his innovative brain. Obama’s playful side adds a good-humored quality that is refreshing in someone of his stature. more leaderly attributes. We see it in what comes across at times as a genuinely playful interpersonal style. “The most potent muse is that of our own inner child. but more from the standpoint of his ability to be fully engaged in the moment. the new Obama family pet. novelty seeking. If you watch Obama he will seldom seem preoccupied. or getting to know Bo. these five ingrained innovative traits. unconventional. When coupled with his other. What we find is evidence of several innovative traits in how he interacts with others. Obama can shift his attention on impulse. The traits of innovative leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Pioneering—forging new ground Risk taking—taking a chance Playful—fun-loving Creative—able to generate original ideas or concepts Novelty seeking—interested in the new or unknown Imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely Experimental—interested in trial and error Curious—eager to know Spontaneous—living in the moment Unconventional—willing to consider the unusual To begin to know Obama’s innovative nature we can look to certain aspects of his everyday actions. playful. and ideas that are different from his own. as well as unconventional. He is completely focused on the situation at hand. his lightheartedness keeps his brain flexible. participating in a heated political debate.

Ironically. Obama’s position on the aspect of national security you are about to read is relevant to both his innovative intent and to the interplay of his right. 2009. taking on each as a discrete matter. in matrixlike fashion. health care. Of the remaining traits of innovative leadership. along with the ever-pressing economic matters. Obama’s stance demonstrates his innovative intent and right brain/left brain interplay. Even more unusual is his ability to integrate right. While we could feel at times as if we are gesturing out into the abyss.and left-brain thinking herein. In an excerpt from his speech Obama had this to say: . to generate novelty and original direction while scrutinizing such prospects every step of the way. This example was first introduced in the previous section on strategic leadership. the risk that some would see it as moving too quickly or having too much on the proverbial plate. He balances trial and error with fierce left-brain scrutiny. this national security issue was again at the forefront of the news as President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney battled through separate primetime televised addresses on the subject. We see in Obama more of an innovative intent than one would typically find in a politician. or in any high-level leader. I found it interesting to land on one concerning a national security matter. On May 21. You will see how his right-brain innovative strong suits pave the way and how his left-brain prudence secures him. and solutions were sought while delving for cross-pollination of impacts. Creativity was in play as well as fresh ideas. He opted to forge new ground in tackling long-standing issues such as the environment. to let his mind wonder what is possible. Change will be an evolution. With such leadership he will progressively get to the change he so intently campaigned on but at no time be endangered by it. rather than work unilaterally. It appears that he did so because he saw the interrelationships of the issues and therefore the potential for solutions on one front to impact another. He will throw out “for instances.and left-brain thinking.” leaving the true innovation to the scientists. Obama’s ability to suppose demonstrates his innovative spirit. for that matter. When looking for an example to use for this section on innovation. not a revolution. he is willing to attempt the untried. We see his imagination at play when we listen to him consider.66 Right Brain/Left Brain President the myriad of issues he was facing was to work these challenges in consort. Obama’s mandates to push the discovery envelope exhibits his commitment to innovation overall. He took a calculated risk by adopting this integrated approach. and education. Still. we should also know that Obama is equally intent on guarding our safety. we see Obama’s willingness to employ calculated trials to identify the most effective means of addressing never-before-seen economic threats. the ability to be experimental and imaginative. for example. He is imaginative in his ability to visualize the unlikely. Obama pushes for advancement while keeping a safe tether. alternate energy sources. ensuring that adequate monitoring and safety nets are in place. showing Obama’s opposition to advanced interrogation techniques.

we are providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. dismantle. . and a light that shines for all who seek freedom. The third decision that I made was to order a review of all the pending cases at Guantanamo. We are investing in the 21st-century military and intelligence capabilities that will allow us to stay one step ahead of a nimble enemy. this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. . Now let me be clear: we are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. equality and dignity in the world . I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face. We are better protecting our border. We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt. Finally. the Bill of Rights—are not simply words written into aging parchment. and launched an effort to secure all loose nuclear materials within four years. Unlike the Civil War or World War II. and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. . I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America. we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. And that is why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world . . . . . . However. For reasons that I will explain. . These steps are all critical to keeping America secure. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. That is why my administration has begun to reshape these standards to ensure they are in line with the rule of law . . in checks and balances and accountability. and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. First. . The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. fairness. and increasing our preparedness for any future attack or natural disaster. We have reenergized a global nonproliferation regime to deny the world’s most dangerous people access to the world’s deadliest weapons. I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. For the first time since 2002. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process. Now. we cannot count on a surrender ceremony to bring . We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. that failed to use our values as a compass. As I said. the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable—a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions. The documents that we hold in this very hall—the Declaration of Independence. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States. the Constitution.Obama 67 My single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe .

To win this war. think of the imbedded aspects of innovation he applies. Obama leads from the right innovative brain. five years from now. As Obama uses both sides of his brain in spontaneous fashion he is able to land on a position that returns the nation to the values it was founded upon. Neither I nor anyone else standing here today can say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. Such innovative positioning confirms his established strategic assumptions: that we must act from a position that builds our alliances. in distant training camps and in crowded cities. He must show good stewardship and trustworthiness. and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are. That will be the case a year from now. If you need additional convincing about the innovative spirit of the president. not alienates us from them.9 As you read over these passages from the president’s full address on national security. recognizing a new and complex threat. In June 2009 Obama embarked on a tour of this region that culminated in a fifty-five-minute ad- . Obama rejects reactive thinking. He would certainly have to be versed in the unconventional— the unusual—and to be novelty seeking—interested in the unknown—if he and those who work with him on this matter are ever to come to grips with precisely what they are dealing with. it requires different approaches. to return the country to its constitutional values. His left brain is telling him that he must instead be grounded. and—in all probability—ten years from now. there are people plotting to take American lives. not just to our nation but to the world. he must be imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely. Probably the biggest mistake we could make in defending ourselves against such an enemy would be to generalize a solution rather than to seek a solution that takes into consideration the distinctions and uniqueness of our adversaries.68 Right Brain/Left Brain President this journey to an end. and as such. Acknowledging that we are venturing into uncharted waters and fighting a new kind of enemy. But I can say with certainty that my administration—along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security—will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. look to what was being called an unprecedented Middle East effort. Right now. endless possible scenarios would have to be surmised to remain ahead of this threat. His unconventional thinking gives rise to certain understandings about the true nature of the situation. He then shifts seamlessly between right-brain strategic and innovative thought to left-brain grounded actions. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda. Obama’s rightbrain innovative thinking is telling him that this is a different situation. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies. if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals. approaches that must take into full account the nature of this enemy. Obama’s desire to return us to our core values is in this instance a truly innovative position in that he is both pioneering and risk taking in attempting to reverse our present course.

A leap of faith is required to appreciate the power in Obama’s innovative perspective. Critiques following the president’s speech were resoundingly positive. His pioneering and risk taking sides took him to the international region that is for the United States the most complicated sell. . the president sought to recast the United States’ global image and perspective. His overall innovative facility made it possible for him to see the full depth of his challenge and to therefore prepare fully for the event. With artful sensitivity he navigated through the minefields lettered with cultural explosive devices and politic-religious booby traps. With this array of behavioral abilities he is well able to set the groundwork for transformation. while his innovative side pushes him further to seek and craft inventive solutions. Specifically we see the incremental effect when he not only draws from multiple right-brain strengths but then shifts with ease to incorporate left-brain strong suits as well. Thus far we see that Obama has pronounced strengths in the right-brain behaviors. For now keep in mind the crucial role innovation plays in a leader’s overall impact. BarackObama. front and center is the quote you see above. They are generating scenarios and taking steps to push beyond the conventional. 2009. A Transformational Imperative I’m asking you to believe not just in my ability to bring change to Washington . In a worldwide broadcast to two billion Muslims throughout the Arab and Muslim world.Obama 69 dress at Cairo University in Egypt. For those less creatively inclined. The fact that his innovative side is predicated upon by sound strategic thinking and modulated by solid analytical scrutiny makes his brand of innovation a secure proposition. I’m asking you to believe in yours. His right-brain strategic purpose and left-brain grounded intent pave the way. As an example of the praise. —Barack Obama12 When you go to Barack Obama’s official Web site. as is seen here.” As you continue to browse the site you see listed the issues that are on the president’s agenda—reforming the health care system. “The speech was brilliant. it may seem at times as if Obama’s reasoning is unsubstantiated or driven solely by personal beliefs. the June 5. improving our . those more tangible in nature. . True innovators like Obama are connecting the hypothetical dots in such a way that new and different opportunities can be unearthed. Next to the Web site’s logo is the title “Organizing for America.”10 CNN senior political analyst David Gergen reported. edition of Financial Times said. The fact that Obama is somewhat unique in that he appears prewired to innovate—it is second nature to him—makes him at ease with what may seem for many of us intangible. “The most powerful and persuasive speech everby any American president to the Muslim world.com. strategic and innovative.”11 Obama’s milestone Cairo University address will be covered in greater detail later on in the chapter. dodging ambushes without evading the issues.

candid story. Obama continues: . and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum. I am grateful for your hospitality. and for over a century. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo. He greets them in their vernacular.14 In his brief beginning sentences Obama demonstrates his star pupil status. The right-brain guiding leadership behavior transformational means to drive change in cultures. He can build trust and respect based on his factually accurate. speech at Cairo University. He comes into every new situation well studied.13 Barack Obama is aggressively seeking to transform America. Through information power you can demonstrate credibility in understanding.70 Right Brain/Left Brain President education system. Looking once again to the president’s June 4. As his speech continues he shows more of how he is open to learning. Transformational leadership traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Open to learning—interested in knowledge Assimilative—bringing people and constructs together Attuned—keyed into current realities Ambiguity allowing—able to deal with the uncertainties of change Facilitative—operating as a catalyst Opportunity conscious—looking for appropriate prospects Incremental—working progressively. thoughts. and individuals relative to values. and actions. and rethinking approaches to the environment and to energy sources. Following you will find the opening paragraph of his address. The actual definition of the word transformational is to change somebody or something completely. recasting our global image. Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning. For over a thousand years. you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. 2009. Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. For Obama transformation is an imperative. we can see numerous transformational traits portrayed. especially improving their appearance or usefulness. He lets the audience know that he has taken the time to be familiar with his host. in small steps Adaptive—able to change Mentoring—able to teach and coach Alignment driven—helping to unify others around directions and goals Let us examine Obama’s fit as an agent of change. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people. teams. In Obama’s case he can communicate to the world and to the people before him that he knows how we arrived at this juncture. Through this knowledge-based skill you can convey to those you seek to enlist that you get it. balanced. and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. reclaiming Washington. Together. and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. He does so by the sheer facts and history he conveys and through the context he is able to set.

15 Drawing from an established and masterfully unbiased learning foundation. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart. and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization. . Obama’s statements show not only solid historical foundation but that he is attuned to current realities as well. He comprehensively references specific recent conflicts. factual depictions of a changing world are chronicled. the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam. tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims. It’s a faith in other people. circumstances. not just the easy path. An evolution of circumstance is described. to focus on the future we seek for our children. and issues. Blame is not assigned. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation.Obama 71 We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world—tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. In the closing paragraphs of Obama’s Cairo address we see additional facets of his transformational ability. It is easier to start wars than to end them. that isn’t black or white or brown. More recently. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end. 2001. but also conflict and religious wars. Moreover. Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. and to respect the dignity of all human beings. or Muslim or Jew. It is easier to blame others than to look inward. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion—that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. and it’s what brought me here today. So long as our relationship is defined by our differences. This truth transcends nations and peoples—a belief that isn’t new. to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. With this as with many of his public appearances Obama shows that he is opportunity conscious. we find the compelling case for change is more readily set and considered. we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace. but also to human rights. His presence in Cairo along with the words spoken demonstrate his assimilative side—his intent on bringing people and constructs together—as well as his facilitative manner— his ability to operate as a catalyst. This has bred more fear and mistrust. and that still beats in the heart of billions. The attacks of September 11th. that isn’t Christian. and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. But we should choose the right path. or whether we commit ourselves to an effort—a sustained effort—to find common ground. He concludes his address with the following remarks: All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. instead. looking for appropriate prospects through which to convey his messages of change. and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians have led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. Obama began mentoring his audience.” That is what I will try to do—to speak the truth as best I can. knowing that change comes . “Blessed are the peacemakers. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra. to respect one another. seeking to unify his global listeners around his directions and goals. Now.” The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace. to learn from each other. for they shall be called sons of God. I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. We know that is God’s vision. timeless poetry and cherished music. He is incremental by nature. Obama then moved to speak from his heart and from his own personal and professional experiences to convey his passion and hope for building new bonds and appreciations between groups currently divided. And may God’s peace be upon you. I am a Christian. As a boy. But I am convinced that in order to move forward. and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. humbled by the task before us. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. and to seek common ground. that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. As the Holy Koran tells us. our mastery of pens and printing. and that too often are said only behind closed doors. we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts. our magnetic compass and tools of navigation. keeping in mind what has been written. nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning. “O mankind! We have created you male and a female. Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed.72 Right Brain/Left Brain President We have the power to make the world we seek.” The Holy Bible tells us.16 Moving from student to teacher. As a student of history. “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth. elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires. I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith. It was Islam—at places like Al-Azhar University—that carried the light of learning through so many centuries. relaying the common threads in the world’s religious doctrines. And throughout history. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other. As a young man. The Holy Koran tells us.” The people of the world can live together in peace.17 He is clearly alignment driven. stating. and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart. Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

to interest them in something you are trying to accomplish. The guiding leadership behavior engaging is defined as understanding and working well with others. —Barack Obama18 To engage others means to bring them on board. What has been most consistent in Obama’s messages throughout his candidacy and his new presidency is his engaging references. Someone who is engaged will produce and accomplish through their willingness to own a part of the end result. is reverent and courteous. and ambiguity are key determinants in his current changeleadership proficiency. validating. He is a good listener. diversity. Obama’s life experience in adaptation. Of the two remaining transformational traits. Obama knows all too well the contests transformations pose. Obama’s own remarkable story now works in his leadership favor. and adjust.Obama 73 from approximations toward a goal—from evolutions. Obama was continuously required to evolve. and actions of others. puts others at ease. and recognizing others and helping them take responsibility. He embraces it. recall Obama’s personal history. adaptive and ambiguity allowing. He is truly inspirational and enigmatic. reconcile. televised interview. Obama’s cornerstone has been his interpersonal style. giving him firsthand understanding of what is required when we seek to revolutionize. social classes. As a leader. to gain their devotion to a cause or plight. In a December 1. that you have their support. was fundamental to his adjustment and success. and in assessing Obama’s facility with each. the unknown and the uncharted. While an impetus milestone in that movement for sure. unrelenting steps makes the difference. Negotiating the gray areas of life. and is able to reach across lines. involving. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. 2008. He is in effect a walking testament to the power of transformation. and respects its complexity. thoughts. We are the change we seek. values it. To exist in dual worlds. to engage someone means that you can count on them to contribute. not revolutions. One shining example of successful incremental change is the civil rights movement and Obama’s election to office. He believes in the premise that the continued thrust of small. Obama remarked that he was committed to creating . when asked about the appointment of his national security team. His world demanded continuous adaptation. He has had to live it. Engaging Underpinnings Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. to live in a cross-section of geographic regions. He had to cope with recurring uncertainties on multiple fronts. He knows full well what can come from actions that seek to positively reshape the values. He possesses a discerning ability to understand others’ perspectives and believes in the power of teamwork as well as the need for everyone on a team to do his or her part. it is yet another step in a long line of targets still to be realized. Obama is thus a lifelong student of change. party and otherwise. and family structures and to reconcile trying personal circumstances.

Leaders who don’t permit a free exchange of information will also cause groupthink. we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who. and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united. as if the two behaviors. not a weakness. We are shaped by every language and culture.19 Groupthink is a term in interpersonal communications that means the perceived absence of conflict. but because they embody the spirit of service. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims. cannot coexist. that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve. . that as the world grows smaller. As we consider the road that unfolds before us. . let’s examine the ten traits of this important behavior and see what makes Obama so inclined. The traits of engaging leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Inquisitive—probing further. and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace . Jews and Hindus—and nonbelievers. engaging and assertive. . It is nonetheless rare to see a top leader with well-honed and natural people skills who can also be formidable. patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. especially into others’ thoughts Listening—paying attention for accurate understanding Respectful—having consideration for others Responsive—addressing the concerns of others Inclusive—involving everyone Collaborative—working along with others Empathic—understanding others’ perspectives Empowering—giving responsibility to others Charismatic—enthusing others through personal magnetism Motivational—inspiring others in positive action In his inaugural address Obama made the following statements steeped in engaging leadership: For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength. With respect to Obama’s engagement skills. at this very hour. drawn from every end of this Earth. rather it is essential that they occur in unison. we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass. and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation. Obama’s likability and interpersonal skill are in fact so pronounced that they have called into question his ability to stand strong. and for a leader. squelching potentially productive debate. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty. They have something to tell us today.74 Right Brain/Left Brain President a team with strong opinions as he believed such a team would be able to make the best decisions and not fall prey to groupthink. It also unmistakably points to his commitment to engagement. More on Obama’s assertiveness will follow. They are not mutually exclusive. The fact that Obama so naturally and openly referenced his determination to avert such a dynamic is yet another example of his uncommon leadership. our common humanity shall reveal itself. Teams where members are too alike are often susceptible to groupthink since differing opinions simply don’t exist. just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

that we did not turn back. . This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed—why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall. and endure what storms may come. alarmed at one common danger. and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition. the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: “Let it be told to the future world . It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break. loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. that the city and the country. . it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. With hope and virtue. The snow was stained with blood. a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river.20 One and a half million people attended the president’s inauguration. at this moment—a moment that will define a generation—it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. Countless others all over the world viewed the event and heard the president’s words. In the face of our common dangers. tolerance and curiosity. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested. than giving our all to a difficult task. that finally decides our fate. but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child. we refused to let this journey end. firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit. in the coldest of months. . This is the price and the promise of citizenship. let us remember these timeless words. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke. . of who we are and how far we have traveled. we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations. . that in the depth of winter. the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. These things are true. came forth to meet [it]. The capital was abandoned. let us brave once more the icy currents. that we have duties to ourselves. our nation and the world. nor did we falter. The enemy was advancing. But those values upon which our success depends—hard work and honesty. so defining of our character. duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly. For as much as government can do and must do.Obama 75 a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet. when nothing but hope and virtue could survive . In the year of America’s birth.” America. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt. and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. on the part of every American. This is the source of our confidence—the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. courage and fair play. Our challenges may be new. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. So let us mark this day with remembrance. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. in this winter of our hardship.

A final aspect of engaging leadership to consider is that of nonverbal behavior. Your nonverbal communication will ultimately be what communicates your messages. he is also able to relate to the everyday person in an unpretentious manner. eye contact. He showed his listening skill as he relayed the historic values of our nation. Without compromise to his stature. vocal qualities and tone. With his reference to the strength of our “patchwork” heritage along with his mention of all global factions he was inclusive. His rather ordinary relational style is an effective equalizer. Aspects of nonverbal communication include facial expressions. In the concluding remarks from his inaugural address we see more precisely the qualities of engaging leadership. an empathic tack engenders sharing. and voice of its citizens. His references to past plights and tomorrow’s lights expressed passionately and poetically were both charismatic and motivational. it was peaceful. In his less formal communications and positions Obama has an uncanny ability to show us our place—how we can and should get involved. silence. who were above all matched in their appreciation for humanity. involving everyone in his call. When the behavior savvy is examined you will see how Obama’s engaging strong suits contribute to his ability as a diplomat. If he is speaking about his direction on environmental reform he will clearly articulate his plan and follow immediately with what each and every citizen can do to contribute to the effort. While he is the president. Obama’s superior empathic ability is rooted in his upbringing and in the perspectives of both his mother and father. whining. yelling. This address was vintage Obama in its ability to prompt and encourage. and vice versa. His ability to “walk in the shoes of another” must be underscored in terms of how it enables Obama to bring others together. In his expression of validation and thanks he showed his respectful consideration of our servicemen and women. understanding. Some estimates go as high as 85 percent. He was collaborative and empowering as he described how the success of a nation comes from the contributions. he can in a moment be one of us. laughter. moving. No doubt Obama has the power to engage. He validated who we are as a people and he engendered a spirit of involvement. one-way tones. touch. That means that others pay less attention to what we say and more attention to how we say it. and openness for all involved.76 Right Brain/Left Brain President The event was without incident. responsibility. gestures. Consider . rate of speech. In this way he is able to convey empathy—the ability to relate to others’ perspectives along with an inquisitive or interested position.21 Nonverbal communication is a critical factor in engagement. The communication rule of thumb is that upwards of 70 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Obama’s empathy and inquisitiveness work in tandem—he is curious about the world and its people. the person holding the highest seat of power. and pitch. and out of that curiosity he is well able to tune into others’ views. and exhilarating. Whereas nonempathic approaches produce telling. A responsive tone was reiterated throughout the address as arduous times were acknowledged.

rather than to extend in a broader manner across the leadership behavioral plane. It makes us more likely to listen to him even when we disagree with what he is saying. Obama. As we move next to an examination of Obama’s left-brain guiding leadership behaviors. it will be interesting to see if we find the same levels of breadth and depth. There would be less seamless behavioral shifting in the “checks and balance” manner from which our brain is wired to work. His nuances and qualities of nonverbal communication match the situation. on the other hand. He makes good eye contact. especially during times of stress. .Obama 77 Obama’s nonverbal demeanor. meaning his facility in each of the four behaviors runs across many or most of the behaviors’ discrete traits. He is known for being even in tone and temperament. You would seldom find the breadth and depth you see in Obama. This makes him more believable. Overall. serious times. is less disposed to such predilections and more prone to behavioral diversity. more genuine. All of these things draw us to him. Upon closer examination you would even find several behavior traits that are their cornerstones. I hope you are beginning to see that it is the nuances that make the difference in Obama’s leadership—the fact that he acts from such a broad set of behaviors and traits and that he does so in a naturally integrated fashion. if you were to examine several good or great leaders you would no doubt find several of the right-brain behaviors at which they are masterful. we find Obama’s engaging ability to be exceptional. He slows his speech down and repeats key phrases that he wants to be sure to emphasize. Instead the leader would likely act from more ingrained behavioral habits. You would instead most probably find the tendency to overplay strengths. He becomes more stern and definitive in his speech during heightened. He is pleasant and expresses genuine positive emotion where appropriate. Noting Breadth and Depth As we consider Obama’s overall right-brain leadership ability we see two notables— he has both right-brain leadership breadth—he acts from all four right-brain leadership guiding behaviors. Typically. when you combine what he says with how he says it. In addition he possesses great depth.

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qualities necessary to develop and execute master plans. The ten traits of methodical leadership are: • • • • • • Task oriented—attentive to assignments Detail oriented—attentive to discrete parts of assignments Organized—orderly and systematic Effective—producing workable solutions and results Focused—able to establish and attend to priorities Procedural—using systems and processes . discrete steps. To be methodical requires that you well organize your charge. Methodical leadership ensures that near-term tactics. taking into consideration tasks and details. The guiding leadership behavior methodical and its ten corresponding traits will display Obama’s preparatory capability. and attention to detail. he was expected to perform. While he may have been encouraged to dream and to wonder.Chapter 5 Obama’s Vision Realized Methodical: A Call to Action There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. accomplishment was requisite. and actions are created that contribute to overarching long-term strategies. In essence it is the role of the left brain to structure and drive the vision that the right brain has determined. It also means that you are efficient and systematic in your approach. —Barack Obama1 As atypical as certain aspects of Obama’s upbringing were. a staging toward one’s goals. Above all. What we notice today in Obama is flawless left-brain order. analytics. his day-to-day existence was marked by the rather common preoccupations of a structured and disciplined life. High standards for achievement were set. A methodical leader employs systematic scrutiny to craft elemental objectives.

Instead Obama led a focused approach. Regulators were charged with seeing the trees. The document was eighty-eight pages in length and marked yet another step in the series of actions the president took to address the global economic crisis. One of the reasons this crisis could take place is that while many agencies and regulators were responsible for overseeing individual financial firms and their subsidiaries. He began by setting the context and then delineated the compelling case for change. . . they behaved like banks but chose to be regulated as insurance companies. The president went on to describe the additional authority he would grant to the Federal Reserve to regulate large entities that create potential for risk. Obama noted that in developing this plan they sought to address targeted flaws that left us vulnerable to securing our safety as we move ahead. 2009. requiring regulators to provide oversight into both individual institutions and the interrelationship between these institutions. We seek to create a framework in which markets can function freely and fairly. we seek to put in place rules that will allow our markets to promote innovation while discouraging abuse. Obama goes on to explain. without the fragility in which normal business cycles suddenly bring the risk of financial collapse. recognizing what makes the best sense Analytical—breaking an entity into its parts Factual—basing assertions on tangible data and evidence On June 17. we’re proposing a set of reforms to require regulators to look not only at the safety and soundness of individual institutions. or other entities that were under less scrutiny. In an address to the nation Obama highlighted the main points of this latest reform. but not the forest. Additionally the Obama plan proposed an oversight council that would charge regulators with monitoring both oversight and communication across the financial sector to address issues that may have fallen between the cracks.80 • • • • Right Brain/Left Brain President Sequential—cognizant of the likely order of things Logical—rational and reasonable. Obama began by stating: With the reforms we’re proposing today. . the president unveiled the specifics of his financial regulatory reform plan. And even then. In how Obama has described his reform thus far we see evidence of his analytical and detail-oriented facility. or investment firms. but also—for the first time—at the stability of the financial system as a whole. we want a system that works for businesses and consumers . They did not opt to start from scratch. no one was responsible for protecting the whole system from the kinds of risks that tied these firms to one another. some firms that posed a so-called “systemic risk” were not regulated as strongly as others. He was also intent on mandating greater reserves that such organizations maintain as added safeguards. In describing the plan’s three salient features. First. the president immediately connects his tactic to the overarching strategic intent—to avert another house of cards or a snowballing effect that could place the entire financial system at risk again.2 In this opening point.

. The mission of this new agency must also be reflected in the work we do throughout the government. regulated by a strengthened federal supervisor. Think about this: If a bank fails. He goes on to describe the second key element of his reform. we will dismantle the Office of Thrift Supervision and close loopholes that have allowed important institutions to cherry-pick among banking rules. charged with protecting consumers. to establish a potent agency that will look out for the interest of the everyday consumer. . . He is factual in explaining the rationale for such oversight. We will offer only one federal banking charter. The most unfair practices will be banned. .4 Obama’s final point described a series of changes designed to promote free and fair markets by closing gaps and overlaps in our regulatory system—including gaps that exist not just within but between nations . . And it works. Yet we don’t have any effective system in place to contain the failure of an AIG. noting that there were also millions of Americans who signed contracts they didn’t always understand offered by lenders who didn’t always tell the truth . Consumers will be provided information that is simple. You’ll be able to compare products and see what’s best for you. which in turn threatened wider turmoil. transparent.Obama’s Vision Realized 81 As part of this effort we’re proposing the creation of what’s called “resolution authority” for large and interconnected financial firms so that we’re not only putting in place safeguards to prevent the failure of these firms. By setting common-sense . for example—has an interest in ensuring that a loan is actually paid back. but more complicated ones. and accurate. Hedge fund advisors will be required to register with the SEC. . We’ll raise capital requirements for all depository institutions. We’re also proposing comprehensive regulation of credit default swaps and other derivatives that have threatened the entire financial system.3 In this excerpt. with more fine print and more hidden terms . we have a process through the FDIC that protects depositors and maintains confidence in the banking system. or the largest and most interconnected financial firms in our country. . like the Federal Trade Commission. And we will require the originator of a loan to retain an economic interest in that loan. There are other agencies. Those ridiculous contracts with pages of fine print that no one can figure out . This agency will have the power to set standards so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want—and actually understand. but also a set of orderly procedures that will allow us to protect the economy if such a firm does in fact go underwater. Companies compete not by offering better products. . This process was created during the Great Depression when the failure of one bank led to runs on other banks. Obama demonstrates his procedural manner by looking at how to best leverage systems and processes. and we must ensure that those agencies have the resources and the state-of-the-art tools to stop unfair and deceptive practices as well. so that the lender—and not just the holder of a security.

and he and Michelle defined a set “date-night” upon moving into the White House— the Obamas’ way to plan for a regular return to their social life given the voluminous demands on their time. the president demonstrated his organized approach. and rational. you can see aspects of this important tactical behavior as . shows his task-oriented side.and left-brain interplay as the president worked from a matrix format to identify interconnections among and between issues wherever possible. We can see similar examples of order in his personal life. For each separate matter he was able to go step-by-step.82 Right Brain/Left Brain President rules. to use broad-based data to inform decisions. Next we saw an effectively run and focused transition team. Using the Methodical Leadership Checklist below. “I believe a president should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time”7— Obama addressed manifold issues at once. Obama demonstrates how he is both sequential and logical. Obama adheres to a rigorous exercise regimen. with multiple critical issues on the table. to act with common sense. to order. For example. these kinds of financial instruments can play a constructive. One would describe him as “buttoned-up” in overall approach. ordered. While one may argue that Obama had little choice but to act and to act quickly on the economic front. and to put sound processes in place to support overall intent.5 With this set of orderly plausible steps. As you look over Obama’s first six months in office. In an attempt to create a plan that is effective we heard Obama’s proposed workable solutions: • • • • • Extending oversight to the Federal Reserve Giving government the power to break up large firms Regulating complex securities Creating a consumer protection agency Coordinating regulations worldwide 6 The president’s aggressive attention to the economic crisis. Obama’s systematic command seems more about who he is. More striking is the right. to dissect. more internally driven than externally determined. that he is attentive to the work at hand. with well-organized plans down to the smallest of tasks and details. Obama’s response to a critical matter is systematic. data-driven. In the preceding example from the early stages of his presidency. In vintage Obama clean and clear summary style. adding this latest proposed reform to the previous actions he took to right the economy. While showing that he can handle numerous demands—his exact words. Obama had attacked a range of problems with methodical precision. We saw Obama’s methodical stance originally in how he ran his campaign. we can easily map his style to that of a sound methodical leader. Thinking about how Obama approaches his work and his life. rather than destructive role.

Wisconsin. the president was speaking at a town hall meeting in Green Bay. She’s with me. METHODICAL LEADERSHIP CHECKLIST ___ Task oriented: Ground my day in the assignments at hand. The success of one’s plans. ___ Detail oriented: Ground my day in the discrete parts of the assignments. ___ Factual: Provide the facts to back up assertions. netting workable solutions or results. Obama is a fan of scorecards. Expressive Excellence Please excuse Kennedy from school today. ___ Sequential: Determine the best order and time frames for the work. ___ Effective: Consider the conditions that would need to be met to meet goals in the best way possible. weaknesses. who was missing her .Obama’s Vision Realized 83 it reveals itself in the day-to-day thoughts and actions of a leader like Obama. A leader must be able to convey salient points at precise moments and in the right forums. ___ Organized: Consider how to resource and track the work to ensure systematic order. Enhance the checklist by using a scale from one to ten with ten being outstanding. ___ Procedural: Ensure that adequate processes and systems are in place. Here is a scorecard for you to use to rate the president on his methodical leadership ability. and threats. ___ Logical: Look back over the plan to date to ensure that it makes good overall sense. ___ Focused: Examine the work scope and resources available to prioritize tasks and initiatives and attend to those established. is often determined in part by one’s ability to adequately communicate them. however. ___ Analytical: Examine elements and relationships for plan and goal strengths. opportunities. —Barack Obama9 On June 11. Such is the charge of expressive leadership. A man stood up to the microphone to ask a question and remarked that he was at the meeting with his ten-year old daughter. 2009. and track Obama periodically on his methodical ability. A leader must connect through words with those with whom he is involved.8 One would expect that he will receive consistently high marks on this opening left-brain leadership skill set.

” The note was signed.” Obama is known for his eloquent. An expressive leader can master all mediums from face-to-face conversations to formal presentations and doctrine. Obama quickly reacted with the following banter: The president: Oh. inspirational. (Laughter. thank you. (Laughter and applause. no.) Okay. and handed a note to them. walked over to the family. I’ll start writing it now. considering I have some people here from work that are very interested in— The president: No.10 Obama finished writing. In this section on expressive leadership we see yet another example of Obama’s right and left brain working in consort. All right. and crystal-clear speaking. in this case. (Laughter. we catch a glimpse of Obama’s ease with the impromptu. no. What’s your daughter’s name? The dad: Her name is Kennedy. and that you are compelling and encouraging. What’s her name? The dad: Well. that of expressive leadership. go ahead. We see great depth in a given left-brain guiding leadership behavior. It means that you provide audiences with the needed context. I’m listening to your question. yet in the exchange described here with a young girl’s father at a town hall meeting. that’s a cool name. “Barack Obama. The dad commented that he hoped she wasn’t going to get in trouble. In addition we see continuous right-brain collaboration with the behavior engaging. poising Obama for enhanced leadership impact. In today’s internet world one has to come across equally well virtually. “Please excuse Kennedy from school today. I’m going to write to Kennedy’s teacher.) Do you need me to write a note? The dad: I’ll take you up on that actually. The president: All right. Mr. She’s with me. I’m serious. He is jokingly called the teleprompter president for his buttoned-up addresses. When his base communication skills are melded with his interpersonal flair. The traits of expressive leadership are: • • • • • • • Prepared—giving the necessary forethought to formal and informal messages Articulate—able to write and speak with clarity Coherent—able to write and speak logically Concise—able to write and speak succinctly Erudite—able to express yourself from the basis of scholarly knowledge Presentable—having a professional presence and demeanor Passionate—having intensity and/or enthusiasm with respect to your subject matter .84 Right Brain/Left Brain President last day of school to see the president. A leader’s messages then must be tailored to varied channels to be effective. To be expressive is to clearly communicate your thoughts. Obama’s expressive ability is far-reaching. Obama’s expressive leadership impact takes on his own unique brand. The president: Kennedy. It read.) The dad: That’s a very cool name. that you converse and come across well. (Laughter.) The president: All right. President. go ahead.

personable. address at Cairo University we can see the full spectrum of Obama’s expressive persona. Obama communicates in well-constructed road maps complete with rationales and supporting data. learned. Being prepared. perhaps more so than we have seen from a sitting president. and to gauge what they are thinking. above all. He is heard time and time again using the phrases “Let me be clear” and “Let me say that again” to emphasize key points. When a new flu infects one human being. charming. and likable. One category would represent the more technical aspects of communicating—what you say—while the second category represents your delivery—how you say what you need to say. Returning to excerpts from the president’s June 4. He unties listeners away from their unilateral factions to their existence as humankind. For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country. think of them as divided into two categories. persuasive. a genuineness as a human being.12 Obama’s expressive mechanics are spot-on. concise. He is clear and to the point. prosperity is hurt everywhere. He provokes our thoughts and holds our attention. His preparation is complete. “The character of a man is known from his conversations.”11 What do Obama’s conversations tell us about his character? Obama is in the public eye frequently. four. to understand. He is typically exceptionally well versed in his subject matter. Through his conversations he displays seriousness of character and strength of convictions along with warmth and playfulness. coherent. passionate. articulate. his thoughts are conveyed in a manner that seems logical and. With respect to the actual ten traits of expressive leadership. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon. He will organize new plans or policy directions into three. or five crisp summary points. Obama presents as a polished enthusiast. As such he is creating the impression of accessibility and of determination. along with other qualities such as your appearance. He is amiable. and erudite are all mechanics of communicating. With respect to expressive persona. 2009. Being presentable. and interesting reflect your expressive persona. His town hall formats suggest a genuine desire to be in close touch with the people—to know. His communications extend across a spectrum from userfriendly simplistic language to rich scholarly references. indicating that mastery is important to him. He makes compelling cases for change. all are at risk. far from the usual droning of politicians. In the following remarks the president captivates his global audience in a manner that negotiates multiple fine lines. Think of the ten traits of expressive leadership as organized into the mechanics of expression and your expressive persona. When you read his writings or listen to him speak.Obama’s Vision Realized • Personable—having an appropriately favorable demeanor • Persuasive—able to make a compelling point • Interesting—provoking thought and/or holding others’ attention 85 Ancient Greek playwright Menander wrote. the .

progress must be shared. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. Through what he said and how he said it. Obama met this test head-on. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered. such attitudes are self-defeating. it reflected a stellar example of expressive leadership. any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. we must not be prisoners of it. Obama’s address at Cairo University is not to be underestimated. and professional speaking style to craft and deliver high-impact messages. doing . and interesting. and scholarship. In the statements that followed the president took his audience through seven key issues that the global community must address together. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings. The seven key issues referenced included: • • • • • • • Violent extremism in all forms The situation between Israelis. let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains. This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. personable. persuasive. diplomacy. it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. Given our interdependence. explaining that to succeed in working together as a people we must first deal with the very issues that divide us.14 Overall his speech to the Muslim world was in essence a well-blended balance of expressive mechanics and expressive persona where he demonstrated the full range of expressive traits. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership. and the Arab world The rights and responsibilities of nations regarding nuclear weapons Democracy Religious freedom The rights of women Economic development and opportunity. Obama superbly managed a complex speaking trial. passionate. Indeed. Palestinians. That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. with poise. And so in that spirit.13 In this passage from Obama’s landmark global address we see the president leverage his compelling. He spoke candidly and from a firm knowledge base. Obama walked us through a timeline of critical world events from economic crisis to the far-reaching consequences of inhumanity in order to encourage us to be one. that is a stain on our collective conscience. accessible. Yet in this new age. So whatever we think of the past. Obama’s remarks in this noted section of his address implore the masses to confront differences. As it was. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests.86 Right Brain/Left Brain President risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. He did so with great command of his subject matter and in a manner that held each group accountable without alienation. people are endangered across an ocean. Through his expressive persona being presentable.

He can communicate that intent in the most effective manner possible. Within his depiction we also see his human connection to the world’s tragic circumstance. Alluring throughout. whether through formal speeches. the anguish and the fear. town hall dialogue. This convincing autobiographical account of the young Obama’s personal and professional journey is masterfully written. Through the president’s well-crafted address he drew from methodical. you were taken to that day. Obama’s multiple right. While the president’s singular leadership behaviors are exemplary. and catapulted it to greater heights. 2001. his ability to fluidly combine and leverage multiple right. is leftbrain communicative command. . that of his expressive leadership. His ability to draw from extensive behavioral breadth and depth took an already accelerated skill. He demonstrated solid grounded traits through his composed credible nature. that of grounded leadership. even when melded with an interpersonal bond. vanishing into steel and glass. We saw strategic vision and innovation in how the address was put together as well as transformational fervor. It was Obama’s conveyance of September 11. the slow-motion cascade of the towers crumbling into themselves. and the days that would follow—the planes. As a final example of Obama’s expressive ability we look to one of his own works. step-by-step ability. Lastly we saw Obama’s tried and true engaging persona in the alignment of his words and his intent. In what we can hear from Obama overall. But words alone are not enough. as is the case with his expressive flair. If what Menander says is true. one of hope and commonality. we will explore how Obama’s words and emotions are in fact backed up by his stability and good-sense stewardship. It’s beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day. . As we move to the next left-brain guiding behavior. like specters. He was assertive in his willingness to explicitly confront sensitive matters. Obama’s intent is good. You felt its horror.and left-brain leadership behaviors makes his effect all the more potent. that the character of a man is known .Obama’s Vision Realized 87 so in such a way that a new direction. a call for new paths forward. press conferences. 15 Obama is a gifted writer. passages in written works. one section in particular stands out in my mind. the ash-covered figures wandering the streets. Obama’s success in this effort was possible not only because of his expressive acumen but also because his speaking modeled the very collaboration he was asking for from his audience. Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and that drives their brethren still . We also see a genuine right-brain relationship with his audiences. or interviews.and left-brain leadership abilities came into play. The next hurdle is whether a leader can stand behind his words and feelings in how he is in fact experienced. Dreams from My Father. yet another facet of his expressive capability. was perhaps stimulated. Complexly describing the moment in a vivid and compelling manner all his own.

Obama should be positioned for strong grounded leadership traits. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility—to ourselves. If you are a grounded leader. Grounded leadership is ultimately a matter of character. “Nearly all men can stand adversity. poised. honest. to be the steward and the gauge. Grounded: Responsible with a “Capitol” R But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is about the greater good and about visionary progress as reflected in sustained American ideals. the ten traits of grounded leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Composed—able to control your emotions Approachable—having a manner that allows others to reach out to you Genuine—sincere Pragmatic—practical and realistic Cautious—sensible and careful Questioning—seeking assurances and/or getting to the bottom of issues Stable—steady and consistent in your views and approaches Loyal—committed to your people and responsibilities Established—having proven competence Trustworthy—able to be counted on . and to the many generations whose lives will be affected for the good or for the ill because of what we do here. give him power. and fair. first based on the very position they hold and then by virtue of how they set out to lead. both about you and about themselves. How individuals handle power reflects their character. and stability. It is about how others feel in your presence. How a leader handles power will determine. to the men and women who sent us here. others will feel as though they are in fact safe. consistency. sensible. among other things. All leaders have power. authentic. The guiding leadership behavior grounded is defined as acting with integrity. They themselves will feel valued. how grounded a leader she is. Can the leader be trusted? Is he viewed as stable? Does she make those around her feel as though they are in good hands? Lincoln would agree. Looking more closely at what it means to be grounded.”17 How does President Obama display his power and what does that tell us about his character? Examining Obama in terms of grounded leadership traits will provide the answer. but if you want to test his character. The Obama view of leadership is not a “do it my way” or “I know what’s best” perspective. —Barack Obama16 Obama has an extraordinary sense of responsibility.88 Right Brain/Left Brain President from his conversations. It is based on responsibility to those who have entrusted him with the authority of his office. Lincoln once said. Obama has been compared in some respects to past president Abraham Lincoln. Obama’s scorecard is not based on wins and losses. They will see you as respectable.

2009. did not hold a press conference following this incident to glamorize the success of its resolution but rather put out a statement calling attention to the crew and to Captain Phillips’s bravery.19 Some considered Obama’s public statements too reserved. The first cluster represents initial impressions. On April 8. was taken hostage. He would therefore receive high marks on the traits composed and stable. As further testament to Obama’s character it is noteworthy that the president. Initially it appeared also that the government was blocking full view of the election controversy from the rest of the world. approachable. Is she practical? Does she exercise good caution? Does she ask the right questions? The third cluster reflects a leader’s reputation over time. but to applaud others. with 62. the ship’s captain. “To those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process. Those discrepancies included actual numbers of votes recorded at certain polling places and the speed with which the election results were supposedly finalized (votes simply could not have been counted so quickly). I . and genuine is he? The second cluster represents a leader’s grounded actions. and established is he? Can we trust him to deliver on his promises? Relating the ten traits of grounded leadership to Obama. making certain that his decisions were sensible and careful as he worked to deal with a critical and highprofile situation. An international outcry of injustice followed. At that moment he exercised his power with discretion and not for his own self interest. A second incident comes to mind in terms of Obama’s composure and stability. how others experience a leader in the moment. What began as peaceful national protest grew to violence. Obama was said to have worked discreetly and effectively with Defense Department factions to ultimately enable Navy Seals to rescue Captain Phillips.Obama’s Vision Realized 89 The ten traits of grounded leadership can be organized into three clusters.” further remarking that “it is up to the Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be. While the crew was able to regain control of their ship. who has been characteristically in the public eye. The president was appropriately cautious. How loyal. Obama said. a cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates.18 The president handled the matter in a serious and low-key fashion. Obama leveraged the resources at his disposal and acted with the needed command and authority. 2009. On June 12.6 percent of the vote in his favor. Richard Phillips. One such example comes from Obama’s handling of the April 2009 Indian Ocean hostage situation. we see a leader whose hallmarks are equanimity and steadiness. A charge of fraud was raised when incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. the country of Iran held its tenth presidential election. how a leader responds to a given situation. steady. Allegations of wrongdoing stemmed from the fact that former prime minister and candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s representatives were not permitted to join in the supervision of the election and that numerous inconsistencies existed in the overall process.” In an attempt to support the people of Iran. Obama stated that he was “deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television. How composed.

Evaluations will be based on performance in each successive position. and in due course likely reset.90 Right Brain/Left Brain President would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation. There is little we know that would . from where its people stand to the realities of its current leadership. he is sensible and careful in his monitoring approaches. we must push hard to drive needed change. will be judged relative to steadfastness. He is pragmatic. regardless of past accomplishments.”20 Was Obama too moderate in his response. It appears that as the work unfolds. Given the turbulent times of the Obama presidency. with respect to the trait approachable. With respect to the remaining three grounded traits. Certainly the fact that he has historically conducted himself as someone who can be counted on bodes well for him. better to reflect on what this circumstance tells him about the whole of Iran. That he has reached his present place in life clearly speaks to his record of accomplishment. While some criticize him for taking on too much at once. wherewithal. and in the president’s mind. Any leader. which explains the broad net he cast early on in his presidency. His authenticity is apparent. finding the appropriate balance and focus. Such is the case because Obama is questioning. He will rely on this trait. His reiterative point about the world watching may indicate that from his perspective. such is especially the case. His left-brain structure and stability—his vigilant nature—will step in over time to modulate the direction. his steady hand will guide his decisions about whether to scale back. these are qualities that must withstand the test of time. proven capability. the matter is being taken under serious advisement by many. able to sort through the complexities of issues and with practical common sense identify what makes sense and what doesn’t. And they should know that the world is watching. and rather than act in response to a singular event. Obama’s statements are those of a grounded leader who draws from a dynamic interplay between strategic thinking and ultimate assertive response. and integrity. loyal. he will need to prove himself as president. . In continuing to explore Obama’s grounded leadership traits. taking in the accounts of this acutely disturbing matter and looking to sensibly integrate it into his strategy with Iran moving forward? Was he displaying sound interplay between immediate left-brain reaction and a right-brain fullscope approach? Obama’s right brain was seeing the complexities of Iran’s world circumstance. These are unusual times. . himself included. Obama is genuine. While we can look across Obama’s life to date and see little if any reason to doubt his allegiance. or perhaps was he prudent and thoughtful. established. and trustworthy. Obama is at ease socially and is a natural at helping others to feel comfortable in his presence. In his new role as president. and that everyone is on alert. highly adept at effective inquiry. regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was . and temperament will be tested in countless ways. His right-brain integrated mindset is disposed to seeing things holistically. Obama’s reliability.

we come to the final left-brain behavior. and his reputation over time. we also find noted strong suits. and determined to get the desired results. Still. his initial impressions. Assertive leadership may also at times require that one be aggressive. As we move through the four left-brain guiding leadership behaviors. or inhumane. firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit. displaying the character factor. With respect to his grounded actions. that we have duties to ourselves. what could be said is that Obama makes a solid initial impression. Being strong and self-assured. inflicting harshness. Obama’s impact in this respect will have to withstand the test of time. we must wait and see how this new president fares. brazen. able to communicate to grounded. True Assertive What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility. driving hidden agendas. and questioning he is. would all be considered part of that leadership definition. duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly. cautious. from methodical or systematic to expressive. approachable. aggressive. —Barack Obama21 If you look up the word assertive you will note descriptors such as forcefully strong and self-assured. disrespect. direct. The nature of Obama’s assertiveness will be pivotal in what he is ultimately able to accomplish. or volatility would also be excluded from this leadership view of assertive actions. to be an assertive leader is to be upfront.” That is one way to describe assertive leadership. in all. Similarly. assertive. a recognition. In evaluating Obama’s grounded facility by the clustering traits. It is crucial to see plans through to fruition. Regarding his reputation. so to speak. In the language of the right brain/left brain leadership model. perhaps even pushy. than giving our all to a difficult task. acting from arrogance. even brazen. Your simple gut check for assertiveness run amok is whether or not your behavior is devaluing. All evidence to date tells us he will come through these aspects of grounded leadership well. and insolent. to act with resolve. Assertive leadership would not include a Machiavellian perspective wherein ends justify the means. dishonest. his grounded actions. What is truly assertive with respect to leadership? Obama’s previously referenced quote relays the phrase “giving our all to a difficult task.Obama’s Vision Realized 91 call into question that he is in fact an honorable man. It is important to be outspoken and take charge. our nation and the world. how pragmatic. and genuine. He most often seems composed. Attacking without provocation. micromanaging would be considered contrary to true assertiveness. so defining of our character. Running over the top of others or doing the work for them are rather ineffective leadership stances. if what we mean by those terms is to act boldly or willing to make the first move. on the part of every American. You may even see words like pushy. but the times and context will certainly try him. It is necessary to leverage one’s .

3. health care. To see Obama as assertive. some indicated that they needed Obama to levy the full weight of his power to silence the opposition and bring needed change. and how we are viewed. one with direct strategic underpinnings.92 Right Brain/Left Brain President scope of power to the fullest. placed added layers of intricacy on the cascading objectives. Assertive leadership begins with a sense of purpose. Complicating matters further was the persistent maneuvering taking place by those who were desperate to regain lost political ground. as such. To restore faith here and abroad in our public and private systems and leadership factions. as our constitution states “by the people and for the people. To fix Washington—move it from perpetual campaign mode back to governing mode. To be purposeful is to be clear about what you are setting out to accomplish. along with foundational factors that drive who we are. He had positioned himself to tend both to policy items like the economy. the preference for some was for Obama to simplify his direction and demand closure on certain items that would bring immediate relief. The president’s more specific goals and policy directions then flowed from these three overarching necessities and. The challenge is to do so in a manner that upholds the core values of your charge and the basic dignity of others. getting the job done but getting it done well while valuing those around you is what real assertive leadership is all about. when the nation’s problems continued to hit close to home for all too many citizens. and terrorism. required continuous shifting on Obama’s part between right-brain transformational and engaging traits along with left-brain assertive ones. Let us see how President Obama fares with respect to this key behavior. At this burdened time. Centering their ploys on the health care debate.” 2. The ten traits of assertive leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Purposeful—determined and definite in your goals Confident—assured about your capability to reach desired goals Tenacious—unrelenting Driven—staying determined to reach goals and get results Delegating—able to assign and resource the work appropriately Decisive—able to make sound decisions Courageous—willing to face challenges and difficulties Candid—upfront and direct Confrontational—able to work through a conflict Closure-seeking—seeing things through and pushing for conclusions In essence. this group brought fierce tactics to bear in their attempts to undermine Obama. Obama’s resolve seems to emanate from three target imperatives: 1. . education. how we function. To return the United States to its constitutional foundation—to be a nation. This broader scope.

of what it means to be tough? Could a description of tenacious move from ramming things through to able to go the distance. candid. purposeful. are our expectations realistic? Obama’s plight may be telling us that if we in fact do seek such safety. to move progressively and patiently as multiple aspects come together? Could tenacity also be described as doing what is needed to drive overall efficiency and effectiveness? Only time will tell if Obama can reshape public sentiment in this manner. that our thinking has been at best incomplete and at worst downright flawed. and delegating. are referred to collectively as reactive assertive leadership. for example. but in the nation’s ability to prevail. it can in fact be viewed in two parts. confronta tional. more truthful. The first five assertive traits. As such they mark a leader’s ability to address issues and push where necessary to drive for conclusions. the rescue of Captain Phillips. more to the point. perhaps we need to become more sensible and. Does he take on too much? Can he move from words to action? Where is the change? Is he tough enough? The longerrange and matrixlike fashion from which Obama operates is different than what we are used to. He carries himself with confidence. If we reexamine Obama’s purpose from his perspective. His tenacity can be seen in the tone of his administration. not months or years. Obama’s purpose is clear. that of foundational assertive traits—those that enable a leader to set initiatives in motion—and reactive assertiveness—how well a leader deals with matters along the way. courageous. If. Our semantics around assertive leadership may in fact begin to shift. you may be inclined to fashion a new yardstick. driven. though. confidence not simply in himself. We have become gluttonous in how we view success. the president worked appropriately behind the scenes on a plan that in decisive . assertive leadership was and is perhaps where Obama suffers his greatest criticisms. One need only look to his success at going from a young African American community organizer to historic forty-fourth president of the United States of America to note his drive. Tenacity in this sense would seem to mean someone able to come out swinging and make an impact in days. by the sheer magnitude of what they are willing to take on and by the many daily markers of progress. what we are really asking for is security and an end to our fears. and closure seeking. a value poignantly evidenced in his handling of his first national security crisis. Would we be willing to entertain new definitions. In carrying out what has been recognized as backstage and quiet leadership. Citing once again the April 2009 incident. Returning to our understanding of assertive leadership.Obama’s Vision Realized 93 Because of these circumstances. tenacious. His delegating style is reflected in the value he places on teamwork.22 The remaining five assertive traits. the president worked collaboratively with both federal law enforcement and the military to effect his role as commander in chief in securing the safe return of the cargo ship’s captain. comprise foundational assertive leadership. decisive. We are a culture driven by immediacy of reward and quick fixes. confident. For now it seems that there are several discrepant notions causing Obama to be misrepresented here.


Right Brain/Left Brain President

fashion, he authorized, resulting in a successful mission. With respect to his courage, Obama takes strong positions and faces challenges at home and abroad. At his memorable June 4, 2009, Cairo University speech, the president made these remarks concerning the threat of terrorism:
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not—and never will be—at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people. The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with. Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.23

Courageous words the president expressed regarding arduous circumstances that must be addressed, matters that will not be tolerated, and injustices that will be settled. Assertive language by the president on the home front can be noted during a March 17, 2009, press conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, as Obama responded to Republican criticisms of the budget.
“Just say no” is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to what our economic policies propose by the other party . . . what we need in Washington are not more political tactics, we need more good ideas. We don’t need more point scoring, we need more problem solving. So if there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive alternative solutions. If certain aspects of this budget people don’t think work, provide us some ideas in terms of what you do. . . . The American people sent us here to get things done.24

Obama demonstrates a unique brand of assertive tact in that he faces difficulties by calling for the germane conversations. The nature of his assertiveness also

Obama’s Vision Realized


reflects appropriately candid and confrontational actions in that he cuts through the politics to get us to the heart of the matter. In his April 14, 2009, address at Georgetown University Obama noted,
For too long, too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. There is also an impatience that characterizes this town—an attention span that has only grown shorter with the twenty-four-hour news cycle, and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers. When a crisis hits, there’s all too often a lurch from shock to trance, with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died away and the media coverage has moved on, instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way.25

In these two examples, the first in which the president demands that objections be backed by alternate ideas and the second where he distinguishes the politics from the actual work, we see more clearly Obama’s brand of assertiveness. Companioned with frequent right-brain style shifts Obama reflects back on strategic intent, seeks to ensure a continuous flow of innovation into the solution pipeline, tends progressively to the evolutionary change process, and works to engage an ever-so-resistant audience. Are you ready yet to rethink your position on what it means to be assertive? Given the full-spectrum manner in which the president leads along with the complexities of his administration’s charge, it seems perhaps premature to expect that his actions be more closure seeking at this juncture. Put another way, with respect to assertiveness, the president is showing strong indicators of foundational assertive traits. He is determined in his goals, assured in capability, unrelenting, and good at resourcing the work. On many fronts he has shown sound reactive assertiveness as well. He is resolute, willing to face difficulties, direct, and good at working through conflicts. He has seen many initiatives through and will no doubt, in time and with a balance of right- and left-brain blended skill sets, move the meter on his additional, bigger-ticket items as well.

Right Brain / Left Brain Summary
As each of the eight right- and left-brain guiding leadership behaviors have now been covered, we see the richness in leadership impact when these total brain behaviors work in consort. Obama leads from the right, affording a fertile starting point from which his equally capable left brain can then bring aspirations to life. While most if not all high-level leaders are to some extent multidominant, it is rare to find someone who is hardwired to act in such an integral manner. What you would instead find are leaders who rather constrict their multidominance, especially under


Right Brain/Left Brain President

stress. Obama, under stress, accelerates multidominance because it is so firmly a part of his nature. Two final guiding leadership behaviors are left to review. They are called the Plus Factors because they add to right- and left-brain success. Accessed properly, they can help drive right- and left-brain strong suits to greater levels. How will President Obama fare with respect to these pivotal leadership determinants? How do the president’s resilient and savvy traits contribute to his right- and left-brain leadership success?

Being resilient positions you to tap fully into your true potential. and mindset — your internal fortitude. but because of their pivotal role in leadership effectiveness. focusing on what you need to know to tend to yourself. When you are at your best physically and mentally. they demand concerted attention. you are more likely to feel satisfied. Resilience is critical to your sense of accomplishment and well-being. Resilient leadership is defined as possessing the optimal physical and mental functioning. Resilient Energy Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. These two guiding behaviors are rightand left-brain enhancing and have direct bearing on how well you will execute the other eight behaviors. let us examine how the Plus Factors contribute to the president ’s efficacy. have the view of looking in. resilient and savvy. To make the case. It asks too little of yourself. Physical energy encompasses your health and fitness. in Schweitzer’s language.”2 How does one accomplish this.Chapter 6 Obama and the Plus Factors: Sealing the Deal The Plus Factors. “get used up”? It’s all a matter of balance. Psychological energy is somewhat more complex. “A great success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up. stamina. It . It is about how you modulate both your physical and psychological energy. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential. — Barack Obama 1 The Plus Factor resilient addresses how well you are able to deal with difficult times and stretch yourself beyond existing capabilities. beginning with his resilience. The Plus Factors can be mistakenly overlooked in a leader’s development thinking. to go through life and never. Albert Schweitzer remarked.

physical readiness. To be positive your body . for example. Compare the model specifics to the following traits of resilient leadership: • Positive — having constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities • Emotionally sound — able to cope with stress and difficulties as demonstrated by your behavior • Clear thinking—able to sort through confusions. how you reach conclusions. and how you ultimately react. aware of and managing your health • Fulfilled — feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about your life • Relaxed — able to decompress from stress • Environmental — making nature a part of your personal and professional development Positive Thinking. accountable to a greater good • Physically fit — practicing sound lifestyle habits. The Energy Model In the model for right brain/left brain leadership we think of energy in terms of having three defining features: • Initiation — how we activate and motivate ourselves • Funneling — what we do and how we do it • Recovery — our health. your thought process. block out distractions.98 Right Brain / Left Brain President is about your outlook.1 shows the complete Energy Model mapped to the traits of resilient leadership. To initiate your energy you need momentum. Who comes to mind for you when you think of being resilient? Some would cite individuals with exceptional physical and mental skill and endurance — Olympic athletes. and rejuvenation 3 Each of the ten resilient traits support one or more of these features. Figure 6. Obama-Style Energy initiation is driven by the resilient trait positive. Still others may name those known for heroic acts or extraordinary accomplishment. and think freely • Tolerant — accepting of differences • Flexible — able to adjust or accommodate when necessary • Spiritual — seeing beyond yourself to how you contribute in a broader sense. wellness. Obama has certainly joined the ranks of those known for extraordinary accomplishment. your constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities. and a mindset oriented toward success. In all groups we would find individuals who are resilient in large part because of their ability to effectively leverage multiple aspects of energy. Others would think of activists who have sacrificed and taken on great personal hardship to advance a cause.

” and yes they did. How the candidates were able to initiate their energy contributed to their staying power. shaking hands. Obama moved through the transition phase of his appointment with the same optimistic mindset. presidential race had such thoughts. How you then view the day ahead is another key element to accelerating optimum energy. Slow. Throughout his first year .Obama and the Plus Factors 99 Figure 6. smiling with confidence that they will be elected? Certainly those of us watching the 2008 U. As blood circulation increases our bodies wake and mobilize.S. Throughout that campaign we saw in Obama a positive presidential hopeful. armed with the slogan “yes we can. as president-elect. after all. Physical activation occurs in part as the natural process of waking and moving about. giving speeches. Next. That presidential campaign was a long and hard-fought battle.1 Energy Model for Traits of RESILIENT Leadership must be poised to act. Have you ever watched national campaigns unfold and asked yourself how the candidates keep going. He was. day after day. deep breaths and light stretching upon rising can enhance the process. your attitude set in optimistic mode.


Right Brain/Left Brain President

in office, amid tenuous times, he remained encouraging. To date he continues to be constructively upbeat. While there are many things in life we can’ t control, thankfully our attitude is one we can —“yes we can.” A positive frame of mind from a leadership standpoint is to welcome challenges and stay focused on opportunities, on the future, on hope. Brazilian teacher, philosopher and activist Paulo Freire has been known as one of the most influential educators of our time, referenced here for his fervor concerning joy and hope. For Freire, living through joy in the present and hope in what lies ahead positions us for success. In his book Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, Freire writes, “In truth, from the point of view of the human condition, hope is an essential component and not an intruder . . . Hope is a natural, possible, and necessary impetus in the context of our unfinishedness. Hope is an indispensible seasoning in our human historical experience. Without it, instead of history we would have pure determinism . . . A future that is inexorable is a denial of history.”4 Freire’s lifework was with the oppressed and impoverished. Hope was primal to emancipation. Joy in our humanity and hope in our prospects paved the way for advancement, for new heights. Interestingly, for Freire, through hope one becomes not clouded by rose-colored glasses but rather more open-minded to the full spectrum of circumstances. Hope encourages our willingness to critique, to question, and to denounce what is unjust in order to move toward ultimate fairness. It is by shoring ourselves up with what is possible that we can more readily face our existing shortcomings. Obama too is a champion of hope. Captivated by the phrase and sermon of his preacher on “the audacity of hope,” Obama’s campaign reflected this inspiration, that from hope we can better scrutinize our current dissatisfactions. On hope Obama said, “Hope — hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.”5 In Freire-like fashion, to be positive is to hold joy as one of life’s most precious commodities. It is a “life’s simple pleasures ” frame of mind that Obama first learned from his mother, carried forth to how he captions his life today. For Obama as for Freire, there is joy in the here and now and aspiration in what is to come. Complacency and despair have no place. Obama is above all positive in what we can and should seek. His right-brain charismatic and motivational traits along with his left-brain personable nature are rooted in this resilient trait, that of a positive spirit. Similarly, his innovative playfulness and transformational openness to learning are primed by his positive hopeful approach.

What He Does and How He Does It
Soon after Obama took office he began appointing his cabinet. News was breaking that Hillary Clinton was to be named secretary of state. Media sharks were

Obama and the Plus Factors


smelling blood in the water. At a press conference one reporter provocatively questioned the president about negative references he made about Clinton during the campaign, in particular about her foreign policy inexperience. The president smiled, looked at the reporter, and laughingly said something to the effect of, “You like to have fun with this, don’t you?”6 His comment composed him and put the audience in check. He made additional comments about Clinton’s fit for the job. The case was closed. Energy funneling speaks to our interactions and approaches. How well we funnel our energy is determined first and foremost by how emotionally sound we are. How well we cope with stress and difficulties, how stable and even-tempered we remain in the face of adversity, is what we look for in determining if someone is emotionally sound. Few would deny that Obama handles stress remarkably well. At each juncture of the campaign, when the heat was on Obama became calmer. In the later stages of the process, during a presidential debate Obama’s Republican opponent was showing signs of wear, referring to Obama as “that one” during an exchange. Obama smiled and let the remark pass while his promoters turned the competitor’s phrase into a bumper sticker. This is a man not easily rattled. Obama seems to offer up a sound array of coping skills to counter life’s stresses. Obama’s stress-resistant demeanor is additive to his left-brain grounded traits of composed and approachable along with his left-brain assertive traits confident, courageous, and candid. Given Obama’s adjustment skills he is better able to control his emotions, and it affords him the position of continuing to reach out to others even during the most contested of times. Obama’s ability to cope with stress can likewise afford him assurance in the heat of the moment. He can act with audacity and frankness ( yes he can) as he insists on a path forward. When, for example, the pressure was on Obama to make Wall Street gains the focus of his attention to right the economy, Obama flatly and courteously replied that Wall Street fluctuations alone were not driving his planning, that he had a broader view in mind. A less emotionally sound leader could have been unnerved by such a highprofile demand and perhaps either lashed out or sought to appease to deflect the pressure. Obama’s clear thinking, his ability to sort through confusions, block out distractions, and think freely, seems linked to his propensity for reflection. When you listen to Obama speak you note a thought flow with apparent embedded organization, with a nucleus and cell-like structure generated from it. The structure catches your attention. It is intricate, yet well formed and simply constructed. Such a thought process, especially coming from someone with so much on his plate, is indicative of both a complex thinker as well as someone who seemingly thrives on distilling involved views into straightforward concepts. Yet another aspect of Obama’s clear thinking is his ability to sort through apparent communication noise. Noise is a term in interpersonal communications theory defined as anything that interferes with the transmission of a message.


Right Brain/Left Brain President

Political environments are replete with noise. Noise is what powers the political engine. The more one side can obscure the other’s, the better chance they have of winning the contest of the moment. To think clearly, a leader has to be able to recognize noise and not be thrown by it. The leader must continue, in spite of the chatter, to think freely. Obama’s stress-resistant armor affords him the inclination to thwart the gnats buzzing incessantly around him. He is able to remain centered and to stay his course. On the noise of politics Obama commented, “Most people who serve in Washington have been trained either as lawyers or as political operatives — professions that tend to place a premium on winning arguments rather than solving problems.”7 At the 200th-day mark of his presidency Obama heard a round of criticisms concerning the many issues his administration was taking on, as well as the cost that such a charter would generate. Sorting through criticisms of this nature is an example of how his clear thinking was tested. Information was coming in from all sides, from media factions, from his Republican opponents, from his own party, and from citizen polls. Obama did not react to the disapproval with a sweeping change of course. He most probably contemplated it in broad right-brain fashion and then applied left-brain analytics, dissecting the situation from all sides as he continued forward. For a clear thinker, information is taken in and culled in open-minded fashion for its best use. Polarized thinkers, on the other hand, are those who have a particular view in mind and hear only that which supports their view. Yet another group, the so-called political thinkers, are those who simply shift to follow the resulting tides. Obama is a clear thinker. Clear thinking as an aspect of resilience affords a leader the best possible path to effective solutions. Clear thinking means that you are attuned to and understand information that is available to you and from which you draw sound conclusions. Two additional aspects of energy funneling are the traits tolerant and flexible. Being tolerant and flexible allows you to function from a greater range, accepting differing perspectives, willing to accommodate or adapt when necessary. Obama’s hardwired values for broad-mindedness, his apparent acceptance of others, and his adaptability to contexts come from the mindsets of those who raised him and the circumstances of his upbringing. Obama appears welcoming of diverse perspectives and, more importantly, seems matter-of-fact concerning differences, meaning that he seems to view heterogeneity as a given in life. Such an individual would spend little energy resisting what is different. Instead he would give his attention to understanding it. With respect to the final aspect of energy funneling, the spiritual sense of a leader, spiritual in this sense speaks to a greater accountability and purpose, that as a leader you are here to contribute not only to your work, but to the greater good. The Obama quote earlier in this chapter reads, “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.

it’s something you do. Obama addresses the impetus that empathy (understanding others from their perspective) can provide. things that promote overall good health and beneficial lifestyle approaches are specified in the medical and wellness literature. Obama conveys his spiritual propensity. It looks at short-term renewal — how you recover throughout the day or at the end of a long week. whether they are close friends or distant strangers — it becomes harder not to act.Obama and the Plus Factors 103 Because it ’ s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”9 In this statement the president speaks to the need to act from and on our beliefs. Energy recovery looks at your health.10 For Obama. wellness. He cites empathy as a necessary yet often neglected aspect of how to truly make a difference: You know. The development of one ’ s energy recovery is somewhat subjective. Regarding how fulfilled we are. and environmental ( your connection to nature). Recuperating from stress can be challenging. Recharging the Energy Battery No matter how many times I see photographs of the progression of a president through his tenure. to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’ s shoes. Energy recovery is critical to all leaders. With respect to the trait environmental. the resilient trait spiritual is about the responsibility of a leader to work always in service to others. varied measures are available that help us to be relaxed. and rejuvenation. Energy recovery also looks at your overall longevity. yet certain practices apply. An additional statement from Obama further reinforces his spiritual inclination: “Faith is not just something you have. In the final quote regarding the president ’s spiritual leadership trait. With respect to being physically fit. the steelworker who’s been laid off.”8 Through this inspiration. there ’ s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. psychology professes certain indicators of satisfaction. Four resilient traits comprise energy recovery. fulfilled ( how satisfied you are with your life ). think only . meaning a range of methods can net similar results. the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. and to assist us. When you think like this — when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others. how each president has aged. relaxed ( how you decompress and unwind ). It is especially vital to those with literally the weight of the world on their shoulders. harder not to help. They are physically fit ( your health and habits). I find it startling.

The final resilient trait. a place with very different and striking environmental imagery. interview at the White House with BBC correspondent Justin Webb. In a June 1. Obama was raised beachside in Hawaii. though. then. To be connected to the physical world in this . wellness. is also one that is strong for Obama. In terms of how well Obama is able to recuperate from the massive stress he is under. As such he grew up satiated with environmental images that are now no doubt second nature–accessible to his brain. He seems to be at. One can only assume that to have accomplished what he has was a good thing for Obama. and I’m grateful that I’ve got such a wonderful wife and kids. do we know about the president with respect to health. And so we’ve got. Obama seems thrilled to be in his current role.12 First Lady Michelle Obama made it a priority to plant a vegetable garden in the White House yard to reinforce and model the Obamas’ wellness orientation. That’s my main form of relaxation. is a champion of physical fitness. and they ’re planning pool parties and talking about homework and trying to figure out how to get the dog back on the leash . 2009. With respect to the resilient trait fulfilled. nothing is better at pulling you out of your world than having a couple of children. and I go upstairs and I can have dinner with my family just about every night. if not beyond. he relaxes: Well. a setting of breathtaking environmental landscape amid a culture tied closely to nature. Obama. He also spent four years as a young child in Indonesia. given all that must be weighing on him. awe-inspiring feeling that comes over us when in the presence of nature’s grandeur to note how such a connection contributes to our energy recovery. and they can travel with me when they’re able. On the negative side.”11 He subscribes to a rigorous exercise regime. Obama is known to be in top physical shape. What. the president has smoked but appears committed to winning the battle against that demon. . He is an avid basketball player and purports to eat healthy foods and snacks. and rejuvenation? Regarding how physically fit he is. where he aspired to be and in a position to make the greatest impact of his life.104 Right Brain/Left Brain President of the undeniable. Obama’s physical workout routine not only promotes good health. I think a very good deal. I mean one of the huge benefits of being president is I now have a nice home office. environmental. how he can relax. but also serves to expediently discharge stress. . he points to his loving marriage and family life as his greatest ally on that front. So I’ve got a ten-year-old and a seven-year-old. He was featured in the November 2008 twentieth anniversary collector’s edition of Men’s Health magazine as one of the “20 Heroes of Health and Fitness. the president made this reply to Webb ’s question concerning how. Most if not all who occupy the Oval Office would have to subscribe to some form of exercise to meet the physically and mentally taxing demands of their position. In addition to family support.13 In this excerpt you hear a satisfied man with treasured family support as his primary means of dealing with the stresses of his charge.

Obama and the Plus Factors 105 way breeds into one’ s thinking a perspective of our own place in a vast universe. . It helps us to be accountable to our planet.”16 Savvy as defined in the Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership Model. it is the smallness of our politics. savvy. Obama exists in an environment that is political to excess. Aristotle’s point could not be more fitting. — Barack Obama14 Negotiating political landscapes and influencing key stakeholders can be a daunting task.” he will also need to continuously address the complications generated by an overplayed political machine. As such it is our external focus. a fitting capstone for someone in Obama ’ s political context. but he seems on solid ground.and left-brain leadership effectiveness. In concluding this section on the guiding leadership behavior resilient we recognize Obama for certain distinct buoyancies that will aid and support his right. . It’s nice to take a break from the goings-on in Washington. For Obama. We can more easily decompress and regain our center. here in Montana you’ve got bears and moose and elk. Montana. what we need to attend to concerning the world in which we operate. How savvy you are will determine how in control you are of your image. Savvy leadership traits are: • Astute — perceptive concerning people and circumstances • Diplomatic — using tact in your sensitive interactions . with multiple rejuvenation strong suits. is next. After all. “Well. And in Washington. “Man is by nature a political animal. it is nice to be back. is the ability to sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. politics. 2009.”15 This noted philosopher’s perspective sums up the importance of savvy to any leader. Obama poked fun at the supercharged competitive D. stating. Given Obama’s concerns about what he refers to in the preceding quote as the “smallness of . Aristotle once remarked. Obama’s environmental connection is sure to play a role in his overall stable temperament. He must act with consummate savoir faire. in Belgrade. The final guiding leadership behavior. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with— your external influence. climate in his opening remarks at a town hall meeting on August 14. you just have mostly bull. Savvy 101 But challenging as they are it’s not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. I’m thrilled to have a chance to spend some time with the folks in this beautiful state. The president has assumed office at a time that will no doubt test his energy recovery to the maximum. Through environmental triggers we are apt to pause and breathe in order to take it all in. It helps us to connect spiritually and to look at our position in the world in terms of what we truly can and can’t control.C.

Obama’s brand of tact seems rooted in a delicate appreciation of fine distinctions. noting fine appreciations of the issues at hand. Power is defined as the capacity to influence. Politicians can typically come across as tactful to a fault. or cultures • Visible — being regularly seen There are three key determinants of savvy. He approaches things with the help of a sensitive antenna. making sense of it all. Obama’s receptors leave him well poised to sense nuances. To be diplomatic requires tact in your sensitive interactions. The second savvy source is power.106 Right Brain/Left Brain President • Timely — aware of the right moment to make a point or deal with an issue • Subtle — able to work indirectly to influence people and situations • Culturally oriented — grounded in the culture of your group or organization and acting from that knowledge in how you influence those within that culture • Networking — developing personal and professional relationships that are mutually beneficial • Coalition building—bringing together those who share your causes. diplomatic. views. Being astute begins with concentration. both of which Obama appears to possess. teams. cultural and otherwise. consisting of the following: • How well you know yourself • How accurate you are in understanding how others see you • How well you understand others and the world around you The savvy traits that help drive awareness are astute. if people are paying attention. and timely. Obama is astute. Fundamental Awareness The first initiator of savvy is awareness. as he calls it — to people and circumstances is an important starting point. what you know or sense. as he examines contexts and perspectives. then we get good government and good leadership. The first is awareness. The final foundational element of savvy is perception. He is attending to his surroundings. On the importance of concentration Obama said. in an artful grasp of the complexities . impressions that are formed and shaped about you and what you are trying to accomplish. exists also as a three-legged stool.17 Obama seems to indicate here that being perceptive — paying attention. It facilitates both intuitive insight and detailed scrutiny. I always believe that ultimately. Being astute contributes to the right-brain ability to read between the lines and to left-brain analytics. or involvements • Promotive — effectively lobbying for your and others’ issues and recognition • Assimilating — able to integrate into groups. like savvy itself. Awareness.

he is discerning about the climate of discussions. Some were big supporters of health insurance reform. And I want to thank you for coming here today in that spirit. At the same town hall meeting in Belgrade. His focus is on providing an accurate perspective. The health care reform debate had at this point escalated to. unfortunate ugly spectacles. Montana. Now. Everywhere — everywhere across the country you’ re seeing people who are coming together and having a civil. Obama will also tend to let discussion occur rather than curtail it prematurely. Obama does this by setting a new tone. I held a town hall in New Hampshire. to be open to learning along the way. and emotional disconnects. that the sensational outcomes we are watching on television in fact reflect only one skewed outcome of the full debate. I know there’s been a lot of attention paid to some of the town hall meetings that are going on around the country. especially when tempers flare. as Obama does. Health care reform is a case in point. Obama had this to say: .18 Obama begins most of his diplomatic messages with a validation or acknowledgment. Some were downright skeptical. at its worst moments. While being more astute makes it possible for you to develop better awareness. loves a ruckus. The discussions were wearing on. cultural. He waited for the right moments and settings to convey his . . Some had concerns and questions. A few thousand people showed up. they were there to listen and to ask questions. He then attempts to rebalance the conversation. That’s how democracy ’s supposed to work. didn’t believe it could be done. stressing the need to talk through disagreements productively. That reflects America a lot more than what we’ve seen covered on television for the last few days. Politically motivated sabotage of ideas and facts seemed to be plaguing the dialogue. T. . indicating in this passage that health care reform is an important and personal matter. where he had to tend diplomatically to old wounds and pronounced social. honest. As such. and what makes me proud are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country. Obama did not respond at each and every juncture. rather than make separate reactive declarations. Earlier this week. making direct attempts to encourage a more positive tenor. Obama’s diplomatic side was also in evidence during his address at Cairo University. But I was glad to see that people were there not to shout. What you haven’t seen on T.V. and much political posturing was taking place. that also makes this debate an emotional one. often difficult conversation about how we can improve the system. health care touches all of our lives in a profound way. Obama’s timely inclinations are evident in how he tends to infuse his positions into statements that he makes along the way.V.Obama and the Plus Factors 107 that sensitive matters are laden with. being more diplomatic and timely shows the ability to act from that awareness. Obama displayed his brand of diplomacy in teeing up his discussion of the contentious matter of health care reform in America.

is hoping to leverage forms of influence beyond positional authority. culturally oriented. Positional authority or legitimate power is only one of six bases of power. Buy-in is an interesting consideration when examining how one uses one’s power. one who seeks to work collaboratively and collectively. A leader who networks more broadly. Embedded in his acknowledgment of this woman is the detection of her special circumstance and affiliation. At the same Belgrade. through town hall forums and ultimately. When a leader views his interactions through such a well-honed cultural lens.19 This is a small. One’s power is enhanced by the savvy traits subtle. but also to gain their perspective as well as their buy-in. and coalition building. recognizing fine distinctions as Obama does. networking. a team-minded leader. and your son’s lucky. Inclusive networking is a key approach for Obama. as Obama does. She began relating her story about caring for a child with special needs and the concerns she had about health care. His method is indicative of a belief in networking as an opportunity not only to communicate directly with various constituencies. as follows: . thank you for sharing your story. The overall point to make about Obama and awareness is that the strong suits he possesses in terms of insight. the president opened his remarks to the woman with this statement: First of all. tact. his savvy is enhanced appreciably. So we are grateful to you. town hall meeting a mother was handed a microphone so that she could ask a question. Obama is keenly culturally oriented. As a result of Obama’s background and key influences. In that sense he is more of a gentle giant. yet important example of Obama’s adeptness at cultural recognition. His rise to the top was experienced in such a manner. He recognizes and validates cultural groups naturally. in a formal address to Congress in which he directly called out the lines in the debate process that had been crossed. Montana. up from the simplest of beginnings but a steadily building tide that eventually amassed into a formidable presence. Networking is the next aspect of savvy that contributes to a leader’s ability to influence more effectively. Obama’s more unassuming style lends itself to aspects of subtlety. You are a heroic mom. He is able to work indirectly to influence people and situations. Recognizing the nuanced culture of parents of children with special needs. All that he is and knows engenders in him respect for and appreciation of what distinguishes us. Power and Influence Power is the capacity to influence.108 Right Brain/Left Brain President reasoning. Such can be seen in his use of town hall meetings as an outreach format. and opportunism make it more likely for Obama to develop and act from better awareness and therefore for his savvy acumen to benefit in kind.

so if it hadn’t been for the nonviolent movement in India. But he’s somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in. views. leaders who work through the full continuum of power create change that becomes internalized to all concerned. and expert power are accessed as well. They typically do not appreciate the value of full-throttle power whereby persuasive. and he — and what was interesting was that he ended up doing so much and changing the world just by the power of his ethics. you might not have seen the same nonviolent movement for civil rights here in the United States. King. They will make use of rewards and limit setting and they will exercise the weight of their rank. one would have to acknowledge Obama for the coalition builder that he is. Ultimately successful in that the election was won against all odds. He inspired César Chávez. or involvements. knowledge. Now. Following his remarks was a question and answer period during which a student asked the president who he would select to have dinner with if he could do so with anyone now or in history. He inspired Dr. address shows an overarching aspect of Obama’s perspective on power. You know. I think that it might be Gandhi. Leaders who rather rely on the upper part of the continuum tend to get buy-in that is only as good as the enforcement in place to back up compliance. it would probably be a really small meal because —( laughter)— he didn’t eat a lot. or expertise 20 109 Leaders less inclined to work through far-reaching networks will tend to stay within the confines of the first three bases of power. to inspire the start of the new school year. Virginia. Hand-in-hand with Obama’s networking style is his affinity for bringing people together who share causes. who is a real hero of mine. referent. Through carefully constructed messages and mediums he was able to unite people across demographics to work toward common causes. In other words. Looking to how his campaign was constructed we can see his proclivity in this regard. The president went before students in Wakefield. He influences through information and expertise. 2009.Obama and the Plus Factors • • • • • • Reward — the ability to provide something that others value Coercive — the ability to set limits or reprimands Legitimate — authority by virtue of one’s position Persuasive — possessing and using information to convince Referent — influence derived from being admired Expert — possessing specific skills. The president replied. by his ability to change how people saw each other and saw themselves — and help . An interesting excerpt from a September 8. Today in his presidency he is using multiple forums and technologies at his disposal to reach out and connect the masses while working through his administration team to address Washington divisions. He is also captivating and thereby able to put forth referent power as a matter of course. These latter forms of influence are in reality more potent as they result in sustainable impacts. The last aspect of power as an accelerant of savvy is the trait coalition building. Obama is an ingrained user of persuasive and expert power.

data. to empower others. it will be realized. but through the force of their personality and their ethical and moral stances.21 Power for Obama is undoubtedly about the ability to make substantive contributions. assimilating. not through money. then that’s not a really good exercise of power. or rather. Perception is in effect an interpretation. is the nature of the game. perception. In addition to promoting through knowledge. and how different are perceptions from one individual or one faction to the next? Obama promotes through knowledge. what some will stoop to in order to shape perceptions into their way of thinking. regularly praising and acknowledging. then. and to foster moral principles through the most civilized of manners. A potential savvy problem for Obama is in the backhanded manner in which others can and do conduct themselves. and expertise to communicate his points. Consider the following example from a September 1. A leader such as Obama knows full well the bad behavior occurring around him and is taking steps to counter it slowly and patiently. press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden as Obama salutes positive signs in the economy before detailing the updates he was providing to the public on our H1N1 flu preparedness. Eventually those with hidden agendas and immoral ploys are exposed. and then help people who had a lot of power realize that if all they ’ re doing is oppressing people. How many differing views are there on health care reform. He relies on facts. On any given day and for any given issue. is it about perception that will foster true savvy versus hyperpolitical savvy? We look to the traits promotive. not through violence. In politics. Obama also promotes through recognition. Notice his promotive tone. Perception as Reality Perception is reality. playing fair and expecting others to do the same. Obama provides updates regarding progress and accomplishments. can such an approach cost him? In the near term. but over time will such a person in fact win the war? This view of savvy leadership says yes. While his stance is admirable. 2009. political or otherwise. one who takes the savvy high road as Obama does can appear to be losing the immediate battle. Commendations are key elements of the trait promotive.110 Right Brain/Left Brain President people who thought they had no power realize that they had power. but with a concerted moral savvy effort. and visible for the answers. Desired change may take longer. What. When being promotive we effectively lobby for issues and recognition. constructing perceptions to support a given position. it is easy to find two individuals whose understandings differ. for example. He creates well-constructed arguments through what he considers to be objective informational accuracy. . So I’m always interested in people who are able to bring about change. And that’s somebody that I’d love to sit down and talk to.

Obama and the Plus Factors


Good afternoon, everybody. Before I say a few words about the meeting we just had I’d like to mention some good news that came out today about our economy. For the first time in eighteen months, our manufacturing sector has expanded, and the statistics used to measure manufacturing output is the highest it’s been in over two years. This means greater production of transportation equipment like cars, and electronic equipment like computers and appliances, and it means these companies are starting to invest more and produce more, and it is a sign that we’ re on the path to economic recovery. There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go, and I and the other members of this administration will not let up until those Americans who are looking for jobs can find them. But this is another important sign that we’re heading in the right direction, and that the steps we’ve taken to bring our economy back from the brink are working. Now, we just had a good meeting about our ongoing efforts to prepare this country for the H1N1 flu virus this fall. And I want to thank John Brennan, our CDC director Tom Frieden, and secretaries Sebelius, Napolitano, Duncan, and Locke for all the good work that they ’ ve been doing to get us ready today. . . . Our plans and decisions are based on the best scientific information available, and as the situation changes, we will continue to update the public. We ’ re also making steady progress on developing a safe and effective H1N1 flu vaccine, and we expect a flu shot program will begin soon . . . I want to commend every member of our team. I think we’ve done an extraordinary job in preparing for this flu outbreak. We anticipate that there will be some issues coming up over the next several months. The way it ’ s moving is still somewhat unpredictable, but what I’m absolutely confident about is that our team that ’ s assembled here has done an extraordinary job in preparing for whatever may happen. So we appreciate all of you for being here, and I want to publicly again thank you for all your extraordinarily hard work.22

Obama began by providing data to demonstrate gains on the economic front. He then called out each member of the preparedness team. Obama highlighted the team’s decision-making process, connecting it to state-of-the-art science while mentioning the status of the flu vaccine in development. In closing he again recognized the team’s exceptional efforts and endorsed their overall capability. Politicians are promotive by nature. It is, after all, their bread and butter, a critical way to solicit the endorsements of their constituents. Obama, like many of his fellow politicos, is adept at it, yet still in all, a cut above with his added flare of reverence. He is genuine in his praise and in his respect for what is accomplished when individuals work together. The savvy trait assimilating is also important in shaping the perceptions of others. Those who are assimilating are well able to integrate into groups, teams, and cultures. As a leader works to integrate she becomes more attuned to members’ perspectives and vice versa. The leader then gains important insights that can sculpt


Right Brain/Left Brain President

her approaches while simultaneously she can begin to share her views to a perhaps more receptive audience. The whole of Obama’s social world, growing up to the present day, required him to integrate and to fit in on a much deeper level than those who walk homogenous life paths. To assimilate is fundamental to him, something that as it turns out will serve him well. As president, Obama is expected to adapt quickly with respect to his responsibilities both at home and abroad. He is well poised to do so with his adaptive inclinations. The final savvy trait is visible. Perceptions are in part molded by how others experience you directly when in your presence. Toward the end of the second chapter the matter of heightened exposure of leaders was raised. The point made was that we are in a new age of access to each other. Leaders have more mediums through which they are openly observed. How you manage those opportunities determines how well you leverage your visibility. Obama is a high-visibility leader. He seems to believe in the value of staying connected and to making his key points in person. He has appeared in various settings and formats that cut across groups and factions as part of a platform of outreach. Companion to Obama’s stance on inclusion, his visible approach ensures ample connection to those he is empowered to serve. Obama’s willingness to be up close and personal also serves to make a formidable statement. It demonstrates a devotion to his convictions—who he is, what he stands for, and what he is setting out to accomplish.

Defining Moments
Developing better savvy has immeasurable benefits. Like its partner Plus Factor resilient, through the development of savvy traits, multiple right- and left-brain behaviors are enhanced. Critical to note is that one’s savvy acumen will determine whether, at certain defining moments, a leader will be able to access his full rightbrain / left-brain potential or rather default to habitual ways. Look first at the ways savvy is right- and left-brain enhancing. Through deeper awareness of your circumstances and personal position, you will be able to land on more astute strategic alternatives. Being culturally oriented, along with more timely, assimilating, and subtle in your approach, can drive more successful reinventions (augmenting transformational leadership). As you are more visible and keyed in, others have the opportunity to experience you as a more grounded leader. Your expressive and engaging skills also take on new dimension as you communicate in more diplomatic ways. Your ability to engage is also bolstered through a promotive tone, along with having ample support systems in place, the result of your networking and coalition building. Time will tell the impact as the president continues to work from his brand of savvy talent. As far as defining moments are concerned, Obama had one of many such moments to come on September 9, 2009. The president spoke to Congress and to the nation about health care reform. Media hype referred to it as his make-

Obama and the Plus Factors


or-break speech. As the president entered the congressional chamber he was warmly and enthusiastically greeted. He began his address in promotive fashion, praising the members for their successful actions over the past six months on behalf of the nation’s economic difficulties. The president then refocused the group on the future, specifically on health care reform. He was confrontational and emphatic, wanting the political posturing to end, differences to be resolved, and definitive action to be taken once and for all. Obama was specific in summarizing the facts of his proposed bill, its cost, and how it would be funded. Obama also called attention to the point that presently there was far more agreement than division across Congress on aspects of the plan. Throughout the address he traversed a fine line between recognizing examples of healthy debate while also expressing constructive intolerance of unacceptable competitive ploys. In many respects he was more provocative than we would normally see in such addresses. In concluding his address the president had this to say:
I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road — to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term. But that is not what the moment calls for. That ’ s not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. (Applause.) I still believe —I still believe that we can act when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history ’ s test. Because that’s who we are. That is our calling. That is our character.23

In this defining moment, Obama ’ s savvy allowed him to access a broad range of right- and left-brain behaviors, rather than to be constrained by the stress of the moment. He was true to his convictions and wisely accessed alter-brain behaviors (those outside of his most favored preferences). In particular he well balanced his tried and true engaging manner with true assertive closure-seeking declarations. In this defining moment, the president’s savvy was well engaged as it not only served to help Obama accomplish what he is wanting to, but also enabled him to best realize his full leadership impact. With savvy as the last of the ten guiding leadership behaviors, the review of Obama’s unique right- and left-brain leadership proficiency is completed. We turn now to how you too can develop your leadership competence in a more fullspectrum manner, how you can become more Obama-like.

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then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all. Additionally. he needs to lead from a broad range of behaviors. From that point you would look to create a full range of right.and left-brain measures to enact your ideals. such that within a given behavior. referred to as leadership depth. A leader needs to act across rightand left-brain abilities. In becoming more Obama-like in your leadership. Obama was depicted as acting with such breadth and depth. whether your leadership ways emulate your beliefs. The nature of his background and life experiences were shown to have contributed to what ultimately became his self-directed diverse leadership persona. numerous facets exist that can and should be leveraged as a situation warrants. we should be willing to work to realize them in our lives. From Obama’s perspective. That Obama is able to move in a seemingly fluid and continuously integrated manner across right. —Barack Obama1 From Values to Actions The preceding six chapters have taken you through a unique leader’s rise to the top and actions therein. then. . what we referred to as leadership breadth. What is clear is that for Barack Obama. This book’s premise. values come with a price.and left-brain strong suits makes his brand of leadership uncommon and something to aspire toward.Chapter 7 Becoming More Obama-Like If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values. is that for a leader of today to be truly successful. you would begin by considering the nature of your leadership values. leadership begins and ends with one’s values. leaders must possess certain nuance propensities.

to a range of potential solutions. hence. Such honesty is the first step in paying that price for what you believe in. Obama is a pioneer artist with an appreciation for novelty. constituencies. Have a change mindset. He relies on keen intuition to get past surface renderings for deeper meanings and messages. his strategies are set from a foundation of broad and sustainable thinking. begin to think about your own development opportunities. As Obama moves . He is open to the unconventional and. Be tuned in to critical junctures that might either help or hinder your direction.116 Right Brain/Left Brain President In this final chapter we will distill Obama’s strengths in executive summary fashion into a listing of leadership must-haves. not how you prefer to be. We begin with the listing of Obama’s key leadership strong suits distilled into a top ten list. Now is the time to come to understand how you are. each corresponding to one of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. The book will leave you with inspirations from other great leaders whose messages are in line with those of Obama. As a result. You will also have the opportunity to assess your strengths and weaknesses relative to the Right Brain / Left Brain Model and to settle on certain leadership development options. think of the bigger picture. His playful spirit opens his mind and others to the imaginative and leads the way to more groundbreaking possibilities. Right-Brain Line of SITE Imperatives • Strategic—Think before you act. not revolutions. • Innovative—Examine problems from multiple angles and vantage points. Leadership Must-Haves Ten Obama leadership imperatives will be identified. He does not constrict process but rather encourages the debate of ideas and the soliciting of input from various. You will then be provided with tools to help address gaps and exercise brain-style shifts more lithely. As you examine these leadership imperatives. Perhaps now is a good time to ask yourself how painfully honest you are willing to be concerning your shortcomings in order to improve. Understand as you do so that this is the time for you to be as forthright with yourself as possible. beginning first with those of the right-brain guiding leadership behaviors. looking for the nature of experiences. He is guided by a phenomenology of consciousness. even competing. one of continuous learning and continuous improvement. and be able to read between the lines to get to the heart of the matter. Only then can you determine your path. Obama relies heavily on reflection to accurately understand the present circumstance and to vision what the best possible future state would look like. • Transformational— Seek evolutions. Critical to any development process is personal candor— seeing yourself in an accurate light. searching for a creative cross-pollination of ideas (and don’t be afraid to have some fun along the way). He pushes the intellectual envelope through curiosity of cause in hopes of promoting groundbreaking outcomes.

He is a powerful charismatic. Be a good listener. as important contributors to any change process. Obama gives a certain amount of leeway. and he adjusts his course accordingly. He tends to the nonverbal attributes of messaging. and once you do. communicate again! Obama is the quintessential communicator. He is concise. He allows others the time to reconcile their differences and to find their place in the work at hand. he models what he expects. • Engaging —Let empathy keep you human. and an even better inspiration and others will surely follow you. nor are we subjected to annoying mannerisms or maddening rhetoric. For Obama. keep your cool. focus. He recognizes that listening is not a soft attribute. He places high value on learning and on knowledge. and realism will get the job done. The next four imperatives are left brain in origin. progressive approach. One of Obama’s defining features is his stability. He has a watchful eye. but of simply serving his charge. He does not drone on. When delivering messages he tees up conversations well. he is easy to listen to. and always relating matters at hand personally to his audience. and when you think you are through. He is a believer in the power of incremental change. Obama is highly regimented and orderly in his approach. driving further alignment between what he says and how he says it. He is able to confront quite well through constructive intolerance. Obama stresses the importance of empathy in leadership interactions. a great model. not to personal agendas or contrived rules of convenience. using both firm demarcations and rational arguments —why and how things must and will change. communicate.Becoming More Obama-Like 117 through transformations he subscribes to a step-by-step. His aim is to be a good steward. his calm. . Obama’s self-control is probably fostered by the fact that he is at moral peace with himself and his goals. he is apt to follow through with the required fervor. aimed at keeping apprised of progress. and then goes a few steps further to be interesting. at times entertaining. articulates the substance of the message. with all that we need to know from him directly. Left-Brain MEGA Mind Essentials • Methodical—Discipline. and credible. clear. He subscribes to letterof-the-law accountability. He sees also what can be accomplished through unremitting efforts. where. the interpersonal side of leadership is a vital element of a leader’s ultimate charge. Thankfully. but a vehicle to assist leaders in steering their course. His seems not the direction of hidden agendas or power plays. Obama leads from a moral base. and how to draw your line in the sand. generating energy and involvement in his wake. He relies on the analysis of facts and circumstances to solve problems and come to conclusions. He looks to keep a sharp focus on the top matters at hand and recognizes the importance of remaining practical. He is repetitive when appropriate. don’t back down. He does his best to talk the talk and walk the walk. • Grounded — Always act with integrity and above all. He also knows full well when enough is enough. believing first and foremost that a leader must act through direct compassion. Once his declarations are made. punching out salient points. • Expressive—Communicate. • Assertive—Know clearly when.

4. Obama is an attitude role model for sure. Orient your leadership from right to left. 3. expressive. groups. He influences from a full set of power bases. 2. never take the bait. Those are the top ten ways in which you can aspire to harness the leadership breadth and depth of this exemplar. In addition to these leadership must-haves.2 . and engaging—conceptualize what is possible and secure the buy-in needed from those around you to get you there. and resources. fundamental awareness. shift style. The Plus Factors —resilient and savvy— are ever-present adjuncts to bolster and secure your overall effectiveness. keep the greater good clearly in sight. His Plus Factors are ingrained into his mode of operating. Recognize your preferences. He is acutely aware. In the end. and above all. A synergy is any combined effort that nets a greater result.118 Right Brain/Left Brain President Obama and the Plus Factors • Resilient — Stay positive. with a farreaching antenna. so you should. Obama is a consummate politician in the best sense of the word. Work differently. and assertive— make possibilities a reality. Look for collective ways that you and those you interact with can pool knowledge. especially when challenged. Obama is a firm believer in teamwork and collaboration. This counterintuitive approach begins by looking out at possibilities. using his workout regime to not only stay healthy and fit.and left-brain behaviors (accessing alter-brain behaviors) will generate greater forward momentum and greater opportunities for success. and being cognizant of the perceptions of others will shape the deciding votes. and is always looking to make extended favorable impacts. but to help him to de-stress from the massive demands of his job. The leader’s MEGA mind and its behaviors—methodical. He works through broad factions. Be willing and able to push beyond your core inclinations for greater impact. Obama relies regularly on an array of behaviors and traits beyond those that are his cornerstones. Know when they work in your favor and when they don’t. He loves what he does. Promote synergies. He is also a wellness icon. not harder. fluidity in thought and approach is central to his appeal and overall effectiveness. always available to support his overall approaches. influencing skills. innovative. work your systems. information. When stuck in a preference. and channels to build allies and is clearly accessible so that his positions and accomplishments are evident. too. The leader’s Line of SITE and its behaviors— strategic. grounded. is fueled by close personal contacts. The saying “two heads are better than one” comes to mind. Obama leads from the right and well incorporates in his left brain partner. For Obama. and ensure the self-care necessary for you to meet the demands of your work. transformational. not from those derived solely from rank and stature. Your brain thrives on them. He stays hopeful and upbeat. Shifting between right. remember also to consider the following four points that crystallize the Right Brain /Left Brain Leadership Model fundamentals: 1. • Savvy—Pay attention.

Go back and look over the ten leadership imperatives that were presented earlier in this chapter. Think about what is the same and what is different from how you lead today. Such data come to us as development feedback. Another diagram of the model is provided in Figure 7. Instructions on how to complete the activity are found in the shaded box below. First. Record any thoughts that come to mind. Following that summary paragraph. To do so you will need the benefit of various forms of data. think about your leadership values—what you believe in— what defines who you are and how you would like to lead. giving you a visual reference to stimulate your thinking as well. A blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil with the title written across the top will also do just fine. In this case. what works in our leadership favor. Open your eyes and construct a short paragraph of your thoughts.Becoming More Obama-Like 119 Your Call to Action The following reflection and visioning activity will start you on your development path. Consider how Obama brings them to life. it is a means of providing accurate views of our leadership strengths. Note specifically where you see some of your greatest strengths as well as certain gaps or opportunities. INITIAL REFLECTION/VISIONING For this activity you’ll need to open up a new document on your computer and call the file Initial Reflection/Visioning. how you are carrying yourself and constructing your day relative to the ten guiding leadership behaviors. Feedback serves as an important . think about what you have learned about the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model. A reflection and visioning activity such as this is an effective way to get started. You are going to think about two things. and you are well meeting your leadership challenges. Next. Now close your eyes and envision that it is one year from today. Try to imagine the nature of your interactions. Feedback: A Key Ingredient Feedback is knowledge through which we can deepen our awareness. put into words your leadership vision. keeping in mind what you learned about Obama’s right brain/ left brain leadership. This exercise will help you consider your leadership effectiveness overall—how you presently function versus how you would ultimately like to lead. Next you will need to accurately and more precisely assess your leadership strengths and development opportunities to correctly land on the best possible action steps. Feedback can also help us understand what we need to focus on to better meet leadership challenges.1. You are leading in alignment with your values.

cutting off potentially valuable information concerning your ultimate success. Formally we can receive feedback through performance appraisals and through prescribed leadership assessment tools. relayed through someone. When gathering informal feedback or observing others’ reactions. especially when it is about the problematic. and then interpreting it.3 . making certain they are accurate. It takes an investigative mindset to understand its true meaning. it always has some truth to it. However. Feedback can come to us formally and informally. Feedback may not always be accurate itself —it may carry with it the misperceptions of its carrier. or a direct report to comment on some aspect of our performance. a boss.1 Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model ( Partial) check and balance to what we believe to be so concerning how we function as leaders. it is important to separate out facts from assumptions and to test our assumptions. being open to it. Feedback can be expressed to us directly from a source or can come to us indirectly. Informally we can ask a colleague. or by demeanor we observe when in someone’s presence. while a piece of feedback may appear to be incorrect. Feedback can be expressed to us directly or we can glean it by observing others’ reactions. There is an art to receiving feedback.120 Right Brain/Left Brain President Figure 7. Some may simply choose to dismiss unpleasant feedback.

to rate yourself on each of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. and actions ___ Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. for each of the ten behaviors rate yourself on a scale from 0 to 10 with 10 being flawless (and as such highly improbable). Test any and all assumptions. While feedback isn’t always easy to deal with—the analogy could be likened to taking your medicine —it may not taste great. direct and indirect. Put on your detective hat and try to reconcile discrepancies. Recognize that dealing with feedback is a skill. and individuals relative to values. Breadth Analysis Soliciting and making good use of feedback will help make your development assessment more accurate. It will help position you in your next step. direct. What is the feedback telling you? Take a few minutes to summarize what you are hearing about how others experience you as a leader. especially from those you trust. formally and informally. Using the Leadership Behavior Rating Form below. as you will have the benefit of varying perspectives to augment your own. recently and over time. Ask yourself what each piece of feedback is telling you and be sure to separate factual data from assumptions. Seek feedback from a variety of sources as a key part of your development process — don’t rely solely on your own perspective. remembering that this is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. Behaviors are intentionally listed in random order. Think for a moment about the feedback you have received. teams. Consider the source and the context of feedback and interpret feedback on that basis. but it is good for you in the long run. Note any patterns or themes along with any inconsistencies between how others see you and how you see yourself.Becoming More Obama-Like 121 The Takeaways about Feedback Are This: 1. Look for themes and converging lines of evidence to help focus your development targets. There are many other helpful vantage points to consider. You may use a narrative or list format. 2. and determined to get the desired results ___ Transformational: To drive change in cultures. 3. thoughts. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with ___ Innovative: To have an open mind and be able to think creatively without restraint . to have the long-range view ___ Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to the cultural climates. actually more like an art. LEADERSHIP BEHAVIOR RATING FORM ___ Assertive: To be upfront.

note your behavioral preferences (those behaviors on which you scored highest). to validate. you could be more effective. Additionally. To give you a way to rate your depth strengths and opportunities.122 Right Brain/Left Brain President ___ Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context ___ Engaging: To understand and work well with others. Looking again at the Right Brain / Left Brain Model diagram provided in Figure 7. Behaviors with lower scores should provide options for increasing your leadership breadth. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives ___ Grounded: To act with integrity. Is that what you are finding? Or are you multidominant. involve. his alter-brain methodical skill comes in as his needed detailed planner for present tasks. How might certain of his patterns also serve you? For instance. Your highest ratings should reflect your typical leadership style. Typically leaders are stronger in left-brain behaviors and need bolstering and reorienting to the right. A sample circle diagram is provided below. open to possibilities and leading to envisioned future states. possessing certain right.brain equation? Depth Analysis While the Leadership Behavior Rating Form will help pinpoint opportunities for developing greater leadership breadth. and stability.1. Using these pielike charts you .and left-brain attributes but still with certain gap areas on one or both sides of the right. consistency. I’ve provided you with circle diagrams for each of the ten behaviors and corresponding traits in the book’s appendix. Note also one or two breadth targets (behaviors that you scored lowest on). in that if you accessed them more regularly. you will also need to consider how to promote greater depth acumen within each of the ten behaviors. and recognize others and to help them take on responsibility ___ Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning. while he is first and foremost strategic.and left. stamina. Obama’s preference is more toward the engaging. you may notice that the dotted lines that were shown when the model was introduced are not on this version. They were left off purposely in order for you to visualize your own potential style shift opportunities. yet he knows how and when to shift style to the assertive to confront and bring needed closure to matters. and mindset ___ Methodical: To plan well. Recall if you can typical Obama-like style shifts. to be the steward and the gauge4 Looking over your ratings. ways in which the president moves fluidly around the model.

You can also find electronic copies of these forms at www.2 Sample Ratings for Traits of STRATEGIC Leadership can note where you stand with respect to your leadership depth. and holistic. To lead from the right and to meet strategic challenges.leadlifeinstitute. Take a moment to go to the appendix and look over the blank pie charts for each behavior.Becoming More Obama-Like 123 Figure 7.2 shows an example of a completed chart for the behavior strategic. and approaches. Remember to consider the information from feedback sources as you decide on your ratings. Complete your depth assessment for each of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. Dots closer to the outside rim of the circle represent higher ratings. global. Figure 7.com. This leader’s strategic constraints are illustrated through lower scores on big-picture oriented. this leader will need to find ways to become broader and more inclusive in her orientation. Dots placed closer to the center of the circle represent low scores on a given trait. thinking. Connecting the dots gives you a picture of your depth strengths and gaps.2 you can see a fictitious leader’s depth rating for the traits of strategic leadership. . In Figure 7.

in a paragraph for each target. Indicate what aspects of your work will show greater effectiveness and how. you will indicate three to four actions you will eliminate from your repertoire altogether. It could be one of his decisions. Think of this as an initial set of development priorities. the culling of developmental feedback. or slogans. START actions can promote greater breadth or depth and will ensure adequate movement across the right. Under the START section you will list three to four actions that you will need to initiate. or something that no longer serves you in your present role. beginning with the STOP category. The objective is to think strategically about how you will achieve your greatest impact. in the section headed CONTINUE you will list three to four actions that serve you well—those that define your favorable leadership preferences. actions that will be new and additive to your current style. something that either was cited here in this book or you know of on your own. Ask yourself. Lastly. In other words. describing specifically how working on these three aspects of your leadership will help you. You could be listing an item that represents an overplayed strength. There are many possible formats to use. As the final step in your call to action. actions.and left-brain plane. you will now need to prioritize your top development opportunities. An example is provided in the boxed worksheet below. Identify three leadership development targets—what you will concentrate your improvement efforts on over the next six months. note how your leadership will be enhanced as you improve in each area. After this initial six-month period you can repeat the process and identify new targets. where can you get the best return on your development investment? Once your priorities are set you are ready to create your plan. next to each action. Trying to take on too much may simply not be doable. Actions specified in your CONTINUE column represent that which you wish to maintain as tried-and-true strong suits.124 Right Brain/Left Brain President Setting Priorities With your leadership vision in mind and when looking over your breadth and depth assessments. you will need to put this information into accessible summary form. Record a brief rationale for each selection. The Plan The assessment steps taken thus far include the completion of a leadership vision. . There are only so many hours in the day. something you can easily keep in front of you. a bad habit. note an Obama-like reminder to inspire you. and the selection and prioritization of development targets. As a means of more directly connecting with our exemplar. Leaders are already stretched with respect to time. In the STOP-START-CONTINUE chart below. Prioritizing your development efforts is critical. creating a process for future leadership development work. The simplest perhaps is something commonly referred to as a STOP-START-CONTINUE. at this moment in your career and given your current responsibilities and existing capabilities.

like the guiding leadership behaviors. This tool is in alignment with Obama’s position on progressive change. defined as taking successive steps to a desired goal.Becoming More Obama-Like 125 STOP-START-CONTINUE STOP Actions Depth trait tenacity: Stop wavering when things seem difficult START Actions CONTINUE Actions “Yes we can” Obama-like inspiration With your development actions clearly in mind. left brain. that once a goal is identified you keep working toward it in incremental steps. how they approach behavior change. You are then more likely to take advantage of opportunities for either stopping a given mannerism and/or adding a new leadership tact. This tool would be helpful as it would enable you to start small and build your new. tools help to gently open your mind to other options. and wellness. Tools facilitate the development of a new action. Select a tool that matches the action. more tenacious stance progressively. The methodology for using development tools would be to look over the desired actions indicated in your STOP-START-CONTINUE and identify a tool to help you put each action in play. Using the preceding example. The brain is unfortunately habitual —unless otherwise repeatedly directed. They emanate from how certain theoretical perspectives view behavior and. Fortunately certain tools are available to assist you. Development tools come from schools of thought in psychology and from the fields of interpersonal communications. One such possibility is a tool called chaining. all that is left is to provide you with tools to assist you. A full assortment of development tools can be found in this text’s parent book. It takes specific effort and focus. If you were to use chaining to . since the action you are seeking to develop falls under the left-brain behavior assertive. fifteen tools have been selected that best complement Obama-like actions. to stop wavering when things are difficult. or supportive ( Plus Factor–based). Since the brain can be in essence locked in certain habitual patterns of conduct. These tools. In this case. health. For our purposes. old habits will return. you would look for a left-brain tool. you would look through the fifteen tools that follow and identify one that could help you. Tools of the Trade Changing behavior is never easy. are either right brain. therefore. Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact.

SIMPLE LISTENING APPROACH Boss: How’s it going. Right-brain tools are summarized in the shaded section below. drawing. . and validating. trial and error. this important tool is the key element of empathy. meaning listening for understanding. paraphrasing. you would identify something small that you could assert yourself on and continue to up the ante from there. You don’t parrot his words but in your own words capture the essence of what is being said. not just the words or the topic. or empathy Brainstorming: Generating ideas or options in a free-flowing manner Drawing: Creating pictures to convey thoughts Reflection: Considering the nature of or looking back over something Visioning: Imaging a future state through a mental picture5 Taking one right-brain tool at a time in more depth. the recent layoffs.126 Right Brain/Left Brain President stop wavering. RIGHT-BRAIN TOOLKIT Active listening: Listening attentively for meaning. The right-brain development tools you will be learning are active listening. What does the other person feel? What meaning does the situation have for him? You paraphrase back what you heard. the whole. but there have been a lot of distractions. what with this new product we’re testing. Right-Brain Tools Right-brain tools are based on humanistic and affective perspectives of psychology and focus on awareness. Consider this example of simple listening versus active listening between a boss and a direct report. emotions. Tom? Direct Report: We’re getting there. What is important is that you get to an experience-based understanding. brainstorming. the unstructured. beginning with active listening. It consists of three components: attending. You attend to what the other person is saying. Validation is a gut check giving the other person an opportunity to tell you how close or far off you are and to provide you with additional information if necessary. implications. Active listening is a thought-based listening approach. and visioning. You are looking to express meaning. reflection. and the new. not simply one that reflects content or facts. but to the nature of their experience.

and magazines and are satiated with dialogue from reality television. what with this new product we’re testing. no good or bad ideas. Boss: OK. We talk and talk and talk and type. Put on some music. Tom? Direct Report: We’re getting there. in fact. newspapers. In this illustration the leader became alerted to potential problems and unearthed an opportunity for a collaborative discussion with his direct report that will serve multiple enhancing purposes for the work. and begin. not an intellectual one. type. There are no right or wrong answers. but there have been a lot of distractions. until now. then. you can. and I think at least talking through some of the role changes and timelines might help ensure that we pull this off. The next right-brain tool.Becoming More Obama-Like and the restructuring of people’s roles. you are saying that there is some added complexity. Boss: OK. When you are through. and for the development of the direct report. and Palms. Boss. you shift style to your left brain and apply methodical organization to glean the best possible options. well lots to do. We are constantly exercising the verbal areas of our brain. Drawing is a hidden gem of a leadership tool. three key issues. We read books. Tom. we talk and type some more. access. 127 ACTIVE LISTENING APPROACH Boss: How’s it going. Blackberries. Make it a playful event. Brainstorming is simple. let’s set some time aside soon to do just that. I’m up for a challenge. and it can foster engaging dialogues. for the relationship. Thoughts are generated without structure. The point is to open up your mind initially through innovation — to begin on the right side of the brain. type and when we’ve had enough. but this one may be tricky. Sleep seemed our only verbal escape. can help us to become more creative. take out a large sheet of paper and some multicolored crayons or markers. and I know if anyone can handle it. it can assist at various transformational junctures. Boss: So. brainstorming. Think about how much of our lives are verbal. . and the restructuring of people’s roles. I’m up for a challenge. When you brainstorm you write down whatever comes to mind. Using active listening can promote better strategic decisions. but this one may be tricky. that are impacting how this will all shake out? Direct Report: For sure. How often do we stimulate. tap into the brain’s vast nonverbal resources? For most of us. the recent layoffs. iPhones. we hardly ever do. We abandoned our crayons and finger paints back in kindergarten for paper and pen and now also cling to our laptops. Boss. It puts our mind on an innovative track.

never followed through on. but then we seem to have difficulty following through. helps us to learn and to give deeper and more open consideration to something. and steps. These two tools can help build your creative proclivities. Both of these right-brain tools. structure. The final right-brain tool is a reflection. so let that excuse go.128 Right Brain/Left Brain President Simple. as a first step in trying to alter or better leverage your impact. Overall a reflection provokes insight. sketches. Construct an image. the present state on the top half of the paper and the desired state on the bottom half. This is about tapping into your uncensored brain. for example. associations. This is not about artistic ability. a reflection can be done in a number of ways. to help you become more future focused in your strategies. As a leadership development tool a reflection is most helpful when you are seeking to better understand your behavior. Then describe in words what the picture conveys. now you can draw your way to your nonverbal power. to create a physical image as in a drawing or a mental image as you did earlier in the chapter’s visioning activity. You now have two ways to vision. Additionally. The basic aim is to better understand the nature of something. Left-Brain Tools Left-brain tools are based on behavioral and cognitive approaches of psychology and focus on logic. easy. visioning and drawing. and from that point we can perhaps set a better plan. you could fold the paper in half and create before-andafter depictions. or diagrams (no words). Think of New Year’s resolutions—however well intended. While we don’t know if Obama uses drawings or brainstorming per se. We know we are not satisfied with some aspect of our lives. using symbols. giving the matter careful. encourage the imagination. Drawing is in fact so very potent a development tool. they both drive the innovative. Change is not easy and behavior change is harder still. Referenced at several points in the preceding chapters as a key tool of Obama’s and at the outset of this section of the text. repetition. and honest consideration provides an advantage that we didn’t have before. As such. they often fall by the wayside. New Year’s resolutions are often nothing more than a wish list. it can be used to assist you with virtually any development action. If you are using drawing. The process for drawing is straightforward. and we can easily know what we want to do differently. using two right-brain tools simultaneously. In this sense you are also visioning. a reflection can foster any and all aspects of right-brain leadership. Sometimes the best starting place with behavior change is through the added awareness a reflection can bring. Our perspective is better informed. Reflecting first on something you would like to change or accomplish. The left- . open. and relaxing. each can promote future (strategic) thinking as well as help gauge and facilitate various aspects of transformational and engaging leadership. we do know that he is well inclined to the innovative.

It is an alert of sorts that tells the brain you need something different from it at a particular moment. She places it on her desk just next to her computer screen. In particular. Her cue is now always in plain sight. She is reminded to network. Cuing is like a literal call to action for the brain. or phrase to prompt a desired behavior Reframing: Changing a perspective. and reframing. She closes the document and notices her spider. or some tangible object to set your behavior on its new path. quote. She tells her brain to associate the spider with her need to get out of her office and interact with others in a more directed and continuous manner. Behavior rehearsal can help drive more assertive behaviors in the underassertive. Chaining was cited as an example in the opening section on tools as breaking a development hurdle down into doable segments. It involves practicing something over and over or roleplaying until the desired ability becomes second nature.Becoming More Obama-Like 129 brain tools you will be learning about are described in the shaded box below and include behavior rehearsal. Here is an example of cuing at work. in this case from a negative to a positive6 The point has been made that Obama is a disciplined individual. The very nature of behavior rehearsal contributes to one’s methodical tendencies. As such. chaining. a picture. Cuing has immeasurable value in the behavior change process. An added value of chaining is that it fosters methodical organization and focus as well. Referred to also as a cognitive cue. Behavior rehearsal drives discipline. She goes to her son’s toy chest and pulls out a small plastic spider and brings it with her to work. LEFT-BRAIN TOOLKIT Behavior rehearsal: Practicing a new behavior until it is ingrained Chaining: Taking successive steps to a desired goal Cuing: Using an object. An executive is looking to enhance her savvy skills. a quote. While the temptation in behavior change is often to start with that which challenges us most. She looks over at the prepared lunch she brought and thinks . she needs to change how she works in order to build stronger networks. It can help break bad interpersonal habits that compromise our ability to be grounded. cuing. It is 11:30 on a Wednesday and she has just completed a small project. It can be likened to Obama’s “building a house brick by brick” method. she relays the image of a spider weaving a web. it can help us to tackle just about any development goal by working one step at a time. while chaining is in our left-brain toolkit. When asked what comes to mind when she thinks of networking. It can help those with expressive leadership gaps become more adept and confident speakers. it is actually better to start off small and work your way up. this marvelous little tool uses a phrase.

Resistance. the creative process for settling on the proper cue affords this unique development tool a place on the right side of the brain equation as well. We take an illogical thought and reframe it into a logical one. though. then. feedback. who dreads resistance when trying to effect change is asked to think instead of resistance as an indicator that the change process is working. These are tools you should seek to draw from first. is actually a natural reaction to change. Plus Factor Tools Plus Factor tools come from varied origins. deep breathing. or person Feedforward: Prefacing statements Mentors: Experienced role models who guide and support Stress busters: Targeted activities that alleviate tension. Plus Factor tools described in the shaded box below include attitude setting. survey. Reframing uses left-brain logic to see things in a different light. The case was made that Plus Factors facility can and will determine how effective you are as a leader overall. In this example. that the behaviors resilient and savvy in effect bolster your effectiveness in the other eight right. something that shows that the change is being taken seriously. For a leader whose left-brain development goal is to be better able to confront opposition and to bring closure to needed changes.130 Right Brain/Left Brain President to herself. reframing can help position this leader to better face her challenges by being on firmer logical ground. others from health and wellness practices. for instance. and stress busters. As such. that the Plus Factor tools are your first line of defense. While cuing itself is a left-brain activity. Each Plus Factor tool is aimed at supporting different aspects of your resilient and savvy development. mentors. the illogical thought is to expect to move through change without pushback. feedforward. rejuvenate energy. People think more about what they stand to lose than what they stand to gain. “That will keep until tomorrow. cuing clearly extends beyond its left-brain place with expanded right brain reach as an enhancer of imagination. PLUS FACTOR TOOLKIT Attitude setting: Moving to a desired mindset Deep breathing: Concentrated breathing activity to promote calm Feedback: Evaluative information from an assessment. It would stand to reason.and left-brain behaviors. and they resist. Some emanate from motivational psychology. A leader. Cuing has limitless utility. and the remainder from the principles of interpersonal communication. and promote well-being7 .” She calls a colleague to meet off campus for lunch.

If you are juggling multiple tasks and beginning to feel frazzled. This kind of breath will take practice. rest your arms on your legs. would he be formidable enough to make his case? Certainly he would not be. You need to build up to a slow. One could say Obama’s attitude setting in many instances reflects that of an understanding inclusive leader with certain bottom lines. with the best outlook to get you there. How does attitude setting work? You will need ten to fifteen minutes and a quiet place free from interruption. While you are breathing. Open your eyes and speak the adjectives aloud. work to clear your mind of distractions. In essence. There are several techniques for deep breathing. Close your eyes. and of yoga and meditation. count to ten with a cleansing breath. You accomplish this by focusing on your breathing speed and progressively increasing the air intake. Find adjectives to reflect the attitude you need to act from. for example. What do you most need to accomplish? Do you need to come across well to a particular group? Do you need to bring clarity to a problem or issue? Do you need to facilitate movement on a project? Do you need to tend to team dynamics? Call up whatever the key needs are for the day and determine the best frame of mind to drive a successful outcome. The process presented here is a straightforward form that can be done anywhere you can find a quiet seated place. It is the foundation of many if not all relaxation exercises.Becoming More Obama-Like 131 Attitude setting is about possessing the right frame of mind for a given circumstance. Deep breathing is an invaluable aid. While a positive attitude is often an important mindset choice. The president appears to recognize the need to incorporate multiple facets into his attitude setting. consider the complexity of the matter at hand and determine the suitable attitude for the level of intricacy. If you feel like your buttons are getting pushed. Consider the nature of your challenges and expectations. what you set out to accomplish. It is best done at the outset of your day. and take a slow. Deep breathing has long been found to help reduce stress and improve thought clarity. deep breathing can help.8 Whenever your driven nature makes it difficult for you to feel composed. You are now ready for your day. sit comfortably. This you can see is far more complex than the singular stance of positive. Obama’s attitude reflects instead all of the above. filling your abdomen rather than contracting it. deep breath. It sometimes helps to concentrate on a prompting . think more broadly about attitude as aligning your expectations. deep breath. It will help to keep you from taking the bait. Sit with your eyes closed and begin to think about the schedule ahead. Deepen the breaths as you go along. If. stop and practice deep breathing. Many believe it facilitates overall health and well-being. that his mindset must be as complex as the problems and issues he is attempting to address. from welcoming and collegial to confrontational and limit setting. President Obama’s attitude about winning on health care reform were based solely on a positive viewpoint. When considering your attitude. You will see him reflect his broad-based posture in the various communication tones he takes on.

In using this tool you are doing proactive work on your image while showing audiences empathy and added respect. which is referred to as phatic communication. and they have the reverence to seek counsel from others who are accomplished. such as to open the lines of communication. Mentors are invaluable development aids for leaders. and be seen as more responsible overall. While most hard-charging leaders like Obama are prone to physical exercise regimes. The smartest individuals know what they don’t know. Different from feedback. concentration. and relaxation with the unconditional love they provide.9 Feedforward messages enable you to begin on a positive note. Yoga. the alter-brain utility of quieter forms of exercise may actually afford more varied resilience benefits. They have also been noted to encourage clear and reflective thought. and history. He also forms mentoring relationships with key individuals from whom he can learn. He pays attention to diet as a way to stay well and thereby deal more effectively with stress. A feedforward is information you provide that prepares others for what you are about to say. soaking up all he can from past presidents. experts. Born from diversity in makeup and rearing. those that use deep breathing. What did we learn from Obama in terms of how he deals with stress? He subscribes to a disciplined physical exercise regime. It can serve a number of purposes. The final Plus Factor tool is a range of activities we will refer to as stress busters. A feedforward can also express an expectation or provide a disclaimer. health. tai chi. feedforward is an alert tool with many uses. A final set of stress-busting activities that warrant mention are those forms of exercise that are more inward based. influence perceptions. Stress busters can take many forms. Obama uses feedforwarding as a natural aspect of his speaking. Obama finds peace in the love of his family—his wife and children. and wellness. He is well read. Let’s not forget Bo. Pets can be a wonderful source of fun. Obama. Obama uses mentors in two special ways. ultimately through his own . past and present leaders. Lastly. He frequently tees up conversations with prefacing statements. He loves to walk and to run to de-stress and to clear his mind. for one. circumvent misunderstandings at the outset.132 Right Brain/Left Brain President sound or phrase. Phatic communication is that which sets a mood or a social nicety. and meditation have been found to promote overall calm. validation. They recognize how to use resources available to them. This cue will tell your brain to respond differently than it has in the past. the Obama family pet. Feedback has been covered earlier in the chapter as an important and ongoing tool in your development process.and left-brain leadership breadth and depth. Loving close relationships can be a powerful relaxer. and stretching as their foundations. Summary Thoughts This book has asked you to think about the uncommon leadership ability of President Barack Obama relative to right. icons.

His interview with host Letterman was in many respects the book’s capstone. collaboratively and integrally. steady. what continues to be impressive is how steady. I began this project midway through the president’s campaign. focused. and he repeatedly thwarts political opportunism. How he approaches his work and what fundamentally drives him is very different from the leadership of the moment we typically see around us./Muslim relations • His messages to help better empower Africans in their own plights. is able to draw from a full array of leadership talents to meet both his aspirations and challenges. and global economic woes. as I work to put the final touches on the book. He does not default to quick fixes and short cuts. the president was calm. Clinton was pointing to Obama’s right and left brain working in consort. He was candid.and left-brain interwoven abilities were in full swing.Becoming More Obama-Like 133 self-directed determination. The president was recognized for a series of efforts throughout the first year of his presidency to change the ways in which we think and act toward one another as primal to improving each and every one of the world’s problems. He laughed one moment and switched gears effortlessly when the situation warranted. a locale strategically selected for the gains that country had already made in this direction . Clinton described that Obama seems able to connect the dots between projects and drive synergies and interrelationships in impressive fashion. realistic. He seems in this for the long haul. He was insightful and playful. In the face of the heated health care debate. the way it was designed to function.10 The following evening President Obama appeared on David Letterman’s latenight television program. He was comfortable and reassuring. but most impressive was how he is able to handle multiple critical priorities simultaneously and to handle them all well. and thorough he is in spite of the onslaught of issues. Included in those accomplishments were the following milestones and positions: • His determination to press the world of nations to free the planet from nuclear threats • His reaching out to the Muslim world to reshape the tone and positioning of U.11 Today. Obama’s right. the news broke that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. former president Bill Clinton was being interviewed on the Larry King Live television program. He pondered the future and was in the moment spot-on. As Obama has moved into the now ten-month mark of his presidency. On September 21. and to the point. and engaging. Clinton remarked that Obama’s strengths were many. a befitting validation of Obama’s worth. determined to create lasting benefits and sustainable change. Among other questions. to his learned style of answering direct and complex questions. continued international hot spots. It obviously took clearer form following the election results in November 2008. President Clinton was asked what he believed was President Obama’s greatest strength.S. 2009. delivered in Ghana.

From this recognition. Think about how the powerful messages from the following leaders can contribute further still to your right brain / left brain leadership thinking as they may have contributed to his. Such dated measures will result in having to fight the same battles over and over as we persist in working harder rather than smarter. Continue to do so and the ghosts of leadership past will come back to haunt you. Perhaps with this in mind we can better consider Obama’s perspective on. Parting Inspirations In closing I thought it a fitting tribute to call upon the voices of some whose thinking could have inspired or perhaps did inspire President Obama. say. Remember.134 Right Brain/Left Brain President • His emphatic declaration and reframing of Middle East peace as a “win-win” proposition • His thrust at the United Nations General Assembly for world leaders to more collectively and substantively own and work together on challenges that affect us all. you will push your brain to full engagement. Now is the time for the new age of leadership. success should no longer be measured by immediate victories and short-term gains. If you’ve learned nothing else. Come to know your behavioral strengths and areas for opportunity. Choose and prioritize wisely. while his collective orientation stresses unification over divide. . Start today by identifying a trait and tool pair that can take you closer to your leadership vision. on our home front. though. know that more is not better— different is. Seek fresh shared ways to add value. knowing he has only begun the work at hand. Therein lies our real energy crisis. not simply that of winning the fight of the moment. The integral nature of Obama’s thinking lends itself to root cause problem solving . Begin to work on improvements progressively. assertiveness as a balance between tenacity and attaining buy-in. begin to restore our party system to how it was intended to function. this is all about extending your contribution through collaboration and modernization. Using the Obama brand of leadership as your new scorecard. for sustainable gains and for impact above and beyond. I hope the book has provided clear examples and options to assist in enhancing your leadership impact. As a wake-up call to leaders. including a meeting of the United Nations Security Council that Obama himself chaired • His commitments to more definitively fight climate change12 Obama was humble in his acceptance of this great honor. we can believe even further in the Obama brand of leadership with respect to ultimate potential. Obama’s enactment of savvy as integrity politics can also. Keep in mind the following process and you’ll be on your way.

you will what you imagine. . —Abraham Lincoln13 A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. It is the result of preparation. and at last you create what you will. and learning from failure. —Colin Powell17 A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.Becoming More Obama-Like 135 In the end. —George Bernard Shaw19 Thank you for allowing me to share in your leadership creations. You imagine what you desire. hard work.18 Imagination is the beginning of creation. —Martin Luther King Jr. you’ll do things differently. If you think about that. it’s is not the years in your life that count. —Warren Buffett15 When will our conscience grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than to avenge it? —Eleanor Roosevelt16 There are no secrets to success. —Mohandas Gandhi14 It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. Special thanks to President Obama for his eminent leadership example. It’s the life in your years.

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and to how you inspire the institute’s practices. Annette Kelton. Their friendship is ever so appreciated. and Debbie’s strong suit in leaving no stone unturned brought the project home. Joseph Flaherty. My publisher. Praeger of ABC-CLIO. Chris Stout. Dr. To the clients and staff of the Lead Life Institute. Support in the day-to-day came from the tireless efforts of Michelle Rooney and Katie Welykoridko. for your feedback. Jennifer Ogle.Acknowledgments This book is dedicated to President Obama for his inspiration.and left-brain mentors. Shoemaker has had a distinguished leadership career in the military. serving on the staffs of two presidents and now in the private corporate sector as a senior vice president for strategy. special thanks for taking the time to preread the manuscript. Their research and attention to detail was flawless and invaluable. made this book possible. Christopher Shoemaker. respectively. Chris’s vision helped to push the envelope. . and in particular my editors. Thanks to you for your openness to the Right Brain / Left Brain model and related tools. To the respected and esteemed individuals who served as endorsements for the book. it is compelling to work with dedicated leaders who want nothing more than to make a difference. The book’s foreword was written by a respected colleague. Kathy Bussert of Design Spring is appreciated for her creative and technical talent. Debbie Carvalko and Dr. I look forward to what’s to come from the Obama years and how his example will inspire leadership into the future. and Sean Stegall. Dr. I greatly value his support and counsel as a mentor and a friend. He is also an accomplished writer and a true Renaissance man—a consummate “full-brain” leader. Chris and Debbie served as the project’s right. Dr. and for your supportive words. Peter Landau. Writing about this exceptional leader has been a thoroughly reaffirming experience.

Mike. Bob and Big-guy. my aunts. Susanne. Carol. my brother and sister. Jerri Frantzve. the personification of the American dream. Rosemarie. To the rest of my family—my mom. integrity. I’m proud to say. Gina.138 Acknowledgments Support of a different nature came from my family and friends. My husband. is. I so appreciate your interest and encouragement over the past eleven months. my uncles. my nieces and nephew. To dear friends Anita Augustine. Tony and Bernice. and connection anything is possible. who provide that particular love Westies are so very good at. Toni and Laura. self-made business success. Jimmy. Of course special mention goes to my furry soul mates. Sarah. Bobby. and Michael Peters. Skip and Marilyn Rosskam. patience. our daughters. Sue Spinella. You guys slept in your favorite spots in the office day after day after day as I typed. my sister-in-law. and my cousins. Patricia and Yasmine. and Sam. Max and Lilly. and typed . Kevin Monahan. who cheered the book on and tolerated the black hole I often vanished into in order to get this project done. Nancy Landau. . and mostly how you continue to care for and believe in me. Lisa. Holli Beckwith. with me in spirit—my grandfather as a self-taught. Janine. and Kristen—I look forward to our continued times together. Nicole. . Don and Donna Hoscheit. someone I deeply admire for his brand of leadership courage. . Mark and Jessica Hockley. and typed. I remember and acknowledge always my grandparents Swift and Lucy. I so appreciate your perspectives. Pat. Fran and Roger Holmstrom. From them I learned what really counts when setting out to make a contribution: that through determination. Annie. Jean-Pierre. and my grandmother as my original source of feminine wisdom. and knew just when and how to make me take breaks. Karen. Tony and Linda. my dad and stepmom. Mike and Pat Cerisano. Emily Douchette. and Christine Troianello.

Appendix Worksheets .

140 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/Line of SITE Figure A.1 Line of SITE Blank Charts—STRATEGIC and INNOVATIVE .

2 Line of SITE Blank Charts—TRANSFORMATIONAL and ENGAGING .Appendix 141 Behavior Trait Ratings/Line of SITE (continued) Figure A.

3 MEGA Mind Blank Charts—METHODICAL and EXPRESSIVE .142 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/MEGA Mind Figure A.

4 MEGA Mind Blank Charts—GROUNDED and ASSERTIVE .Appendix 143 Behavior Trait Ratings/MEGA Mind (continued) Figure A.

144 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/Plus Factors Figure A.5 Plus Factor Blank Charts—RESILIENT and SAVVY .

Ibid. February 9. 2009). com/news/article/555414 (accessed February 10. 4. “President Obama Swiftly Sets Course on Day One.html (accessed February 4. White House East Room. 2. 2009).com (accessed February 10. November 3. Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact (Westport. http://www. January 29.” Canadian Press. http://www.com/ quotes/authors/b/barack_obama.com. Barack Obama. 2. 2009). Barack Obama. Barack Obama.. “Obama’s Busy. 2009).Notes Chapter 1 1. D. Lee-Anne Goodman. 2009).htm (accessed March 3. Barack Obama. 2009.latimes.” Obama Speeches. Mary Lou Décosterd. 9. Quotation from Brainy Quote..” press conference. http://obamaspeeches. http://www. 7. “Manassas. 2009). 2009. 2008. http://www. Last Rally of 2008 Election. 2009. 6. Barack Obama. CT: Praeger.brainyquote. 2008). Bold First 10 Days in Office Could Rival Roosevelt’s Pace. 2009).canadaeast. January 22. Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons.whitehouse. 3. 7.com/E-Barack-ObamaSpeech-Manassas-Virgina-Last-Rally-2008-Election. Quotation from Quotes and Poem. Quotation from Brainy Quote.brainyquote. 5. 8. . “Press Conference by the President. gov/the_press_office/PressConferencebythePresident/ (accessed February 10.html (accessed February 4. Virginia.com/quotes/showquotes/author/Barack-Obama/20360 (accessed March 1.com/ quotes/authors/b/barackobama. http://www. http://www.quotesand poem. Washington.” Los Angeles Times.C.

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Ibid. 2009). Mind In Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes (Cambridge.” http://en. 7. 2004). com/quotes/quotes/b/barackobam375640. 5. Dreams from My Father. Barack Obama. org/wiki/Ann_Dunham (accessed March 20. 2009).v. s. 2006)... Obama. 84–89. Obama. Kaplan.Notes 147 24.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_Sr (accessed March 27. Kaplan. 21. 23.v. 1991). Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 71 – 72. 4. 17. 3 – 129. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (New York: Three Rivers Press. 2009). 51 – 52. http://www. 19. and Obama. 12. Dreams from My Father. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia..wikipedia.net/ (accessed March 15.v. Dreams from My Father. Ibid. A Child’s Odyssey. Audacity of Hope. “Barack Obama. 15. 49. 2009). (St. 204 – 6. 96 – 112. Obama. s. Barack Obama. 92 – 96. 9. 94 – 102. xii. org/wik/Lolo_Soetoro (accessed March 29. 24. 438.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_Sr (accessed March 27. Ibid. 18. 205. 10 – 11. Ibid. A Child’s Odyssey: Child and Adolescent Development. Dreams from My Father.brainyquote. “Ann Dunham... Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 6.v. Quotation from Obama. 16. 330 – 32. wikipedia. Obama.” http://en.. 11. 291 – 95. Obama. Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky.wikipedia. Ibid. “Barack Obama. 301 – 2. 22. Dreams from My Father. Obama.” http://en. 69 – 70. s... 73 – 74. 20. 41. 13. 47 – 48.. Paul: West. Paul S. 2009). 10. 1978). 2009). Obama. Obama. 327. .wikipedia. Sr. http://obama. s. 82. 3. “Lolo Soetoro. 26.. 2. 8. 27. Ibid. Dreams from My Father. 9–10. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. MA: Harvard University Press.. Barack Obama. 14. Dreams from My Father. Sr. 25. Audacity of Hope. Ibid.net. Ibid.” http://en. Obama. Chapter 2 1. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York: Crown.html (accessed March 3. 29 – 30. Quotation from Brainy Quote. Dreams from My Father. Ibid. 2nd ed. 12 – 27.

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html (accessed February 4. 16. 2009). Barack Obama. http://www. David Gergen.suntimes.. http://www. 2009. 2009. Washington. 2009).barackobama. 2009.com/cms/s/0/3ac64d90-5136-11de-84c3-00144feabdc0. Capitol Building.html (accessed July 1. 21. Quotation from BarackObama. 2009. 2009). 2007. http://www. Cairo. “Remarks by the President on a New Beginning”. 2009). December 1. Financial Times. Stephen Nachmanovitch.com/Senate Letter?source=VIC (accessed January 29.whitehouse.com/quote/27091. 2009.gov/the_ press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-On-National-Security-5-21-09/ (accessed July 9.” November 4. com/quotes/authors/b/barack_obama. Quotation from The Quotations Page.v. June 4.com/2008/11/04/obama-victory-speech_n_141194. 2009). 2009). 241. Quotation from Brainy Quote. 8th ed. Barack Obama. DeVito. .com.gov/the_ press_office/President_Barack_Obamas_Inaugural_Address/ (accessed February 9. 2009). Ibid. 2009). 2009. 2009).brainyquote. http:// www.C. 13.gov/the_press_ office/News-Conference-by-the-President-3-24-2009/ (accessed April 1. 19. 20. s. (New York: Longman. 7.whitehouse.huffingtonpost.. 2008. Joseph A. 11. 17. http://blogs.” National Archives.ft. Chicago.quotationspage. 6. http://www. http://www. June 4.whitehouse. 2008. 2009). 12. Cairo University. Quotation from Brainy Quote. May 21. Barack Obama.C. Encarta Dictionary: English (North America). http://www. January 20. March 24. 10. interview by Anderson Cooper. http://newsbusters. CNN Anderson Cooper 360. President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address.whitehouse. 18. Barack Obama.150 Notes 5. “Press Conference by the President. com/quotes/authors/p/pablo_picasso. Egypt. Washington. http://www. Ibid.” White House East Room.html?nclick_ check=1 (accessed July 1. Barack Obama. Ibid. transformational. 2009).” June 5. Barack Obama. Huffington Post. com/sweet/2008/12/presidentelect_obama_fifth_pre. 8. html (accessed February 4. Pablo Picasso. http:// www. 14. 2009).gov/the_press_ office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/ (accessed June 7. 15. “Obama Victory Speech — Text.html (accessed April 4. http://www. The Interpersonal Communications Book.org/blogs/mike-sargent/2009/06/05/ac360-strikesgergen-gusher-obama-speech-most-powerful-speech-ever-mus (accessed July 30. D. Washington.C. press conference. D. 9.html (accessed July 15.brainyquote. “Remarks by the President on National Security. D. “Obama Gets Off to a New Beginning. “President-elect Obama Fifth Press Conference” (transcript). 1998).

2009. 2009). 14. x. Quotation from The Quotations Page. Jennifer Loven. 2009. 13. June 4. Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership. 11. April 14. 2009.com/quote/414. Barack Obama.nytimes. Barack Obama. gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-the-Economy-at-George town-Univ ersity/ (accessed April 14.com/2009/06/17/world/ .C. June 11. News correspondent’s summary broadcast. “Remarks by the President on 21st Century Financial Regulatory Reform.comcast.Analysis/ (accessed April 13. D. March 19. Barack Obama. 18. June 17.C. 2009). 16. Ibid. 2009). 2009. 8. Décosterd. Ibid. http://www.html (accessed June 15.quotations page.” April 14. 2009).gov/the_press_office/Remarks-of-the-President-on-Regu latory-Reform/ (accessed June 18.” Cairo University. 5. “Recount Offer Fails to Quell Political Tumult in Iran. Décosterd. June 17. http://www. Washington. 17. 3. http://www. http://www. Ali Velshi. 15. 2009). Dreams from My Father.. D. 2009). Ibid. 69. 2009. Scott Horsley.. April 12.whitehouse. 10.Notes 151 Chapter 5 1. Ibid. Nazila Fathi. “Remarks by the President on the Economy. “Obama Draws Energy from California Swing.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-inTown-Hall-Meeting-on-Health-Care-in-Green-Bay-Wisconsin/ (accessed July 2. 19.” Georgetown University. http://www. 12. Ibid.” National Public Radio. 2009.com/quote/29441.org/templates/story/story. 2.whitehouse. 2009. “Remarks by the President in Town Hall Meeting on Health Care. Washington.gov/the_press_ office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/ (accessed June 7. Quotation from The Quotations Page.” Associated Press. 2009. 4. 7.” Southwest High School. quotationspage. Egypt. “Remarks by the President on the Economy.net/articles/news-politics/2009 0412/Obama.npr. Cairo. Menander. http://www. http://www. 9. http://www. “Remarks by the President on a New Beginning.php?story Id=102128246 (accessed July 10. “Analysis: Obama Beats First National Security Test. Barack Obama. 74 – 77. Cable News Network. CNN.whitehouse. 2009).” White House East Room. June 17. Barack Obama. Abraham Lincoln.whitehouse.Pirates. 6. http://www. Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership. Wisconsin. 2009. Green Bay. Obama.” New York Times.html (accessed June 16. 2009).

asp?idnews=47231 (accessed August 16. 2009). Chapter 6 1.” 23.net.html?_r=2 (accessed August 16. Loven. 2007). “Remarks by the President on a New Beginning. Barack Obama. twentieth anniversary collector’s edition. Peter Moore. 7. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics.” Dwight D.” June 14. http://news.brainy quote. Democracy. 2009. Jim Lobe and Daniel Luban.go.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/albert_schweitzer. 10.net/news.net. November 2008.” Inter Press Service News Agency. “Gym Rat in Chief? Obama’s Fitness Regimen. 2009). http://www. 2.barackobama. Quotation from Brainy Quote. 4.barackobama..html (accessed June. “Statement by the President on the Budget. Barack Obama. Love. Ibid. 2009). 94 – 98. and Men’s Health. commemorative inaugural edition. and Leadership from a Guy Who’s Even Busier Than You Are. June 15.” 24. 22.suntimes. http://www.html (accessed September 10.gov/the_press_office/Statement-by-the-Presidenton-the-Budget/ (accessed August 13. http://blogs.net/barackobama-quotes.net/barackobama-quotes. Susan Donaldson James. and Civic Courage (London: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers Inc. D.brainyquote. Barack Obama.html (accessed September 10. 12. 29. 2009. Albert Schweitzer.152 Notes middleeast/17iran. http://www. 8.” Men’s Health. 2009. 21.barackobama. January 27. Newsweek. http://www.com/quotes/b/ba rack_obama. http:// ipsnews. 11.net/barackobama-quotes. http://abcnews. 3. Quotation from BarackObama. 2009). Chicago.” ABC News. 2009).co. 2009. Décosterd. Obama.com/Health/President44/ story?id=6387559&page=1 (accessed September 10.html (accessed September 10. 2009). com/quotes/b/barack_obama.com/sweet/2008/ 12/presidentelect_obama_fifth_pre. 2009.C. December 1. “President-elect Obama Fifth Press Conference” (transcript).net.uk/2/hi/ middle_east/8099115. 25. Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership. Quotation from Brainy Quote. Paulo Freire. Barack Obama. http://www. 14.html (accessed September 10.bbc. “The Challenger: 9 Lessons in Balance. 2009). 9. Quotation from BarackObama. 2009). “Ahmadinejad Defiant on ‘Free’ Iran Poll. 2001). Room 350. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “Remarks by the President on the Economy. “IRAN: Washington Maintains Cautious Response to Election Crisis. 2008.html (accessed September 10. Washington. “Analysis. Quotation from Brainy Quote. 2009). 2009). 6. Quotation from BarackObama. http://www.whitehouse. Illinois. 176 – 81. . and BBC News. 2008.” April 14. 2009). March 17. http://www. December 4. 20.stm (accessed August 16. 5.html (accessed July 15. 69 – 71.

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2009). Huffington Post. 2009).” Nature 224. Paolo. 2009.com/news/article/555414 (accessed February 10. Bob. George. http://www. February 24.” Men’s Health. February 2. 1995. Jeffrey. Daniel. Lakoff. 2006. “Obama’s Busy.” Inter Press Service News Agency. 2009).cana daeast. New York: Bantam Books. Belmont. 2008. January 29. Paul D.html (accessed February 9. London: Rowan & Littlefield. A Child’s Odyssey: Child and Adolescent Development. 176–81. 2003. Susan Donaldson. Jones. and Civic Courage. 2 (1986): 22–26.com/2008/11/04obamavictory-speech_n_141194. 2009).com/Health/President44/story? id=6387559&page=1 (accessed September 10. 2009). “Obama Victory Speech—Text. Peter. http://abcnews. 2009. Scott.org/templates/story/story. Dudley. Kaplan. April 12. Moore. CA: Wadsworth. Democracy. 2009. Lee-Anne.huffingtonpost. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics. “The Seven Intellectual Underpinnings of the Obama Code. “Is the Brain Stuff Still the Right (or Left) Stuff?” Training and Development Journal (Madison) 40. November 2008.” The Canadian Press.aspx (accessed February 10. November 4. 2009.php?storyId= 102128246 (accessed July 10. http://www. Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. Horsley. no. .go. 5219 (1969): 614–15. Paul: West. December 4. http://www. 2nd ed. http://www.” Psychosomatic Medicine 11 (1949): 338–53. James. Jim. “Possible Basis for the Evolution of Lateral Specialization of the Human Brain. 2008. March 19.Pirates. http://buzzflash. New York: Bantam Books.npr. Loven. Goleman. and Leadership from a Guy Who’s Even Busier Than You Are. 1991. http://www. twentieth anniversary collector’s edition.com/articles/node/7792 (accessed March 1.net/news. 2009. June 15. S. Paul. “Obama Draws Energy from California Swing. 2009). MacLean. 2009).Analysis/ (accessed April 13. 2009). “Americans Approve of Most Obama Actions to Date. Jennifer. “The Challenger: 9 Lessons in Balance. “IRAN: Washington Maintains Cautious Response to Election Crisis.” ABC News. “Psychosomatic Disease and the ‘Visceral Brain’: Recent Developments Bearing on the Papez Theory of Emotion. and Daniel Luban. Lynch. Lobe. “Analysis: Obama Beats First National Security Test. Goodman.comcast. Bold First 10 Days in Office Could Rival Roosevelt’s Pace. http:// ipsnews. Daniel.” Associated Press. Jerre. Brain and Behavior.gallup. Levy. Goleman.com/poll/114091/Americans-ApproveAobama-Actions-Date. Love. 2001. no. 2009. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.asp?idnews=47231 (accessed August 16. Garrett. St.” BuzzFlash. “Gym Rat in Chief? Obama’s Fitness Regimen.net/articles/news-politics/20090412/ Obama.” Gallup.” National Public Radio.156 Bibliography Freire.” Huffington Post (speech transcript).

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84 – 85. 117 . 122 Ambiguity-allowing (behavior trait). 48. 72 Alter-brain behavior. 37. 101 Confrontational (behavior trait). 133 Cautious (behavior trait). 87. 47. 35. 47. 42. 112 Attitude setting (tool). 87 – 89. 70. 34. 49. purposeful. 112 Alignment-driven (behavior trait). 118 Concise (behavior trait). 76 Composed (behavior trait). 76. 38. George W. 101. Richard. 61. 74. 101. 6. 47. 130 – 31 Attuned (behavior trait). 47. 46. 80. 83 Anticipatory (behavior trait). 73. William Jefferson. closure-seeking. 110 – 12 Assimilative (behavior trait). 47. confident. 88 – 89. 101 Articulate (behavior trait). 47. 90 – 95. tenacious Assimilating (behavior trait). 50. 126 – 28 Bush. 6. 47 Analytical (behavior trait). 7 – 8. 55. 70. 108 – 9. 129 Big-picture oriented (behavior trait). 11 – 12. 46. 46. 48. 92 – 93. 45. 88 – 91. 70 – 71 Astute (behavior trait). 74. 126 – 27 Adaptive (behavior trait). 49. 118. 60 – 62. 63 Approachable (behavior trait). 91 Chaining (tool). 123 Brainstorming (tool). 125. 133 Closure-seeking (behavior trait). delegating. 60. 11. 101.. 63. 117 Confident (behavior trait). 95. 49. 74. 92. 129 Charismatic (behavior trait). driven. 53 Candid (behavior trait). 70 – 71 Behavior rehearsal (tool).Index Active listening (tool). 121. 50. 49. 117 – 18. 113 Coalition-building (behavior trait). 66 Clear thinking (behavior trait). 117 Cheney. 131 Constructive intolerance. 106. 92 – 93. decisive. 112 Coherent (behavior trait). 49. 48. 95. 84 – 85 Collaborative (behavior trait). 98. 84 – 85 Assertive leadership. 143. 113. See also behavior traits: candid. 113. 125. 131 Conceptual (behavior trait). 49. 105 – 7. 100. 50. 91. 129. 49. 27. 52. 113. courageous. 37. 113. 95. 101 – 2 Clinton. 48. 1. 37 – 38. 93. confrontational. 70. 50. 17. 106. 52 – 53. 56. 37.


Index Experimental (behavior trait), 47, 65 – 66 Expressive leadership, 42, 45, 48, 52 – 53, 83 – 87, 91, 112, 117 – 18, 122, 129, 142. See also behavior traits: articulate; coherent; concise; erudite; interesting; passionate; personable; persuasive; prepared; presentable Facilitative (behavior trait), 47, 70 – 71 Factual (behavior trait), 48, 71, 80 – 81, 83 Feedback: benefits of, 121; in development planning, 121, 124; overview of, 119 – 21; as a tool, 130 Feed forward (tool), 130, 132 Flexible (behavior trait), 50, 65, 98, 102 Focused (behavior trait), 48, 79 – 80, 83 Freire, Paulo, 100 Fulfilled (behavior trait), 103 – 4 Genetics: chromosomes, 21; crossing over, 21; genes, 20 – 21, 23; genome, 21; genotype, 21; phenotype, 21 Genuine (behavior trait), 49, 88 – 91 Global (behavior trait), 46, 61, 63, 123 Grounded leadership, 42, 45, 49, 52 – 53, 68 – 69, 87 – 91, 101, 112, 117 – 18, 122, 129, 143. See also behavior traits: approachable; cautious; composed; established; genuine; loyal; pragmatic; questioning; stable; trustworthy Groupthink, 74 Holistic (behavior trait), 34, 37, 46, 61, 90, 123 Imaginative (behavior trait), 34, 47, 65 – 66, 68, 116 Implementing (leadership action), 51 Inclusive (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76, 108, 123, 131 Incremental (behavior trait), 47, 51, 69 – 70, 72 – 73, 117, 125 Innovative leadership, 42, 46, 57, 64 – 66, 68 – 69, 100, 116, 118, 121, 127 – 28,

Cooper, Anderson: interview with Obama, 14 Counterintuitive, 43, 118 Courageous (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 94, 101 Creative (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 116, 127 – 28 Cuing (tool), 129 – 30 Culturally oriented (behavior trait), 50, 106, 108, 112 Curious (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 76 Decisive (behavior trait), 2, 7, 49, 92 – 93 Declaring (leadership action), 51 Deep breathing (tool), 130 – 32 Delegating (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Detail oriented (behavior trait), 48, 79 – 80, 83 Diplomatic (behavior trait), 50, 105 – 7, 112 Drawing (tool), 126 – 28 Driven (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Dunham, Madeline, 27 Dunham, Stanley, 23, 27 Dunham, Stanley Ann, 23 – 25 Dynamic interplay, 2, 39, 52, 90 Effective (behavior trait), 82 – 83 Emotionally sound (behavior trait), 50, 98, 101 Empathic (behavior trait), 25, 47, 74, 76 Empowering (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Engaging leadership, 42, 45, 47, 52, 54, 57, 73 – 74, 76 – 77, 84, 87, 92, 112 – 13, 117 – 18, 120, 122, 127, 128, 141. See also behavior traits: charismatic; collaborative; empathic; empowering; inclusive; inquisitive; listening; motivational; respectful; responsive Environmental (behavior trait), 50, 98, 103 – 5 Erudite (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 85 Established (behavior trait), 49, 88 – 90 Ethology: cross-cultural existence, 21 – 22; defined, 21; sensitive periods, 22 – 23

Index 140. See also behavior traits: creative; curious; experimental; imaginative; novelty-seeking; pioneering; playful; risk-taking; spontaneous; unconventional Inquisitive (behavior trait), 47, 65, 74, 76 Insightful (behavior trait), 9, 46, 60 – 61, 63, 133 Interesting (behavior trait), 49, 85 – 86 Intuitive (behavior trait), 34, 36 – 37, 46, 60, 63, 106 Lakoff, George, 15 Leader’s audiences: cultures, 42, 47, 50, 70, 106, 111, 121; individuals, 42, 47, 55 – 56, 70, 121; teams, 42, 47, 50, 55 – 57, 70, 74, 121 Leadership actions. See declaring; implementing; operationalizing; visioning Leadership behaviors. See assertive; engaging; expressive; grounded; innovative; methodical; resilient; savvy; strategic; transformational Leadership Behavior Rating Form, 121 – 22 Leadership breadth, 77, 115, 118, 122, 132 Leadership depth, 115, 123 Leadership development: breadth analysis, 121; depth analysis, 122; initial reflection / visioning, 119; STOPSTART-CONTINUE (development plan format), 124 – 25. See also active listening; attitude setting; behavior rehearsal; brainstorming; chaining; cuing; deep breathing; drawing; feedback; feed forward; mentors; reflection; reframing; stress busters; visioning Leadership vulnerability, 3 Left-brain leadership: essentials, 117. See also MEGA Mind Left-brain toolkit, 129 Left hemisphere, 34 Line of Site, 45 – 46, 57, 59, 116, 118, 140 – 41


Listening (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76, 117 Logical (behavior trait), 34, 48, 80, 82 – 85, 130 Looking in (Plus Factor positioning), 49, 51, 97 Looking out (Line of Site), 45 – 46, 51, 118 Looking over (MEGA Mind), 47, 51 Loyal (behavior trait), 49, 75, 88 – 90 McCain, John, 38 MEGA Mind, 47 – 48, 117 – 18, 142 Mentoring (behavior trait), 47, 70, 72, 132 Mentors (tool), 130, 132 Methodical leadership, 42, 45, 48, 52, 53, 79, 82 – 83, 87, 91, 117 – 18, 122, 127, 129, 142. See also behavior traits: analytical; detail oriented; effective; factual; focused; logical; organized; procedural; sequential; task oriented Moral imperative, 14 – 15 Motivational (behavior trait), 47, 52, 74, 76, 100 Multidominance, 34 – 35, 95 – 96 Multidominant, 34 – 35, 37, 43 – 44, 95, 122 Networking (behavior trait), 31, 50, 106, 108 – 9, 112, 129 Nobel Prize for Peace, 133 Novel learning, 35 Novelty-seeking (behavior trait), 47, 65, 68 Nonverbal communication, 76 – 77 Obama, Barack Senior, 24 Obama, Michelle, 32 – 33, 104 100th day press conference, 52, 54, 56 Open to learning (behavior trait), 47, 70, 107 Operationalizing (leadership action), 51 Opportunity-conscious (behavior trait), 47, 70 – 71 Organized (behavior trait), 48, 79, 82 – 83


Index Risk-taking (behavior trait), 46, 65, 68 – 69 Savvy leadership, 42 – 43, 49 – 50, 76, 96 – 97, 105 – 6, 108 – 13, 118, 121, 129 – 30, 144. See also behavior traits: assimilating; astute; coalition-building; culturally oriented; diplomatic; networking; promotive; subtle; timely; visible Sensitive periods. See ethology Sequential (behavior trait), 34, 48, 80, 82 – 83 Shrewd (behavior trait), 46, 60, 63 Soetoro, Lolo, 28, 33 Spiritual (behavior trait), 32 – 33, 50, 98, 102 – 3, 105 Spontaneous (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 68 Stable (behavior trait), 35, 38, 49, 88 – 89, 101, 105 Strategic leadership, 42, 45 – 46, 52 – 53, 55, 57, 59 – 61, 63 – 64, 68 – 69, 116, 121 – 23, 140. See also behavior traits: anticipatory; big-picture oriented; conceptual; global; holistic; insightful; intuitive; shrewd; theoretical; thoughtful Stress busters (tool), 130, 132 Subtle (behavior trait), 50, 106, 108, 112 Task oriented (behavior trait), 48, 79, 82 – 83 Tenacious (behavior trait), 24, 49, 92 – 93, 125 Theoretical (behavior trait), 8, 22, 63, 125 Thoughtful (behavior trait), 4, 13, 17, 60 – 61, 63, 90 Timely (behavior trait), 50, 106 – 7, 112 Tolerant (behavior trait), 50, 98, 102 Transformational leadership, 42, 45, 47, 52, 57, 69 – 71, 73, 87, 92, 100, 112, 116, 127 – 28, 141. See also behavior traits: adaptive; alignment-driven; ambiguity-allowing; assimilative; attuned; facilitative; incremental;

Passionate (behavior trait), 48, 76, 84 – 86 Personable (behavior trait), 48, 85 – 86, 100 Persuasive (behavior trait), 49, 69, 85 – 86, 109 Physically fit (behavior trait), 103, 104 Pioneering (behavior trait), 46, 65, 68 – 69 Playful (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 85, 100, 116, 133 Plus Factors, 49 – 50, 96 – 97, 118, 130, 144 Plus Factor Toolkit, 130 Positive (behavior trait), 50, 98 – 100 Powell, Colin, 16, 135 Pragmatic (behavior trait), 2, 28, 49, 88, 90 – 91 Prepared (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 85 Presentable (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 86 Procedural (behavior trait), 48, 79, 81, 83 Promotive (behavior trait), 50, 106, 110 – 13 Purposeful (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Questioning (behavior trait), 49, 88, 90 – 91 Readiness (for learning), 29, 33 Reflection (tool), 101,119, 126, 128 Reframing (tool), 129, 130, 134 Relaxed (behavior trait), 50, 98, 103 Resilient leadership, 42 – 43, 49 – 50, 96 – 98, 100, 103 – 5, 112, 118, 122, 130, 144. See also behavior traits: clear thinking; emotionally sound; environmental; flexible; fulfilled; physically fit; positive; relaxed; spiritual; tolerant Respectful (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Responsive (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Right-brain leadership: essentials, 116 – 17. See also Line of Site Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership Model (fundamentals), 4, 41, 51, 91, 119 – 20 Right-brain toolkit, 126 Right hemisphere, 34, 36

47. opportunity-conscious Trustworthy (behavior trait). 128 Visioning (tool). open to learning. 126. 51. 119. 30 .Index mentoring. 116 163 Visible (behavior trait). 30 Zone of Proximal Development. Lev S. 50. 64 – 65. 110. 106.. 49. 68. 88. 112 Visioning (leadership action). 52. 128 Vygotsky. 90 Unconventional (behavior trait).

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designer. and university teaching. speaker. She has been recognized by Who’ s Who in Teaching and Outstanding Women of America. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. attitude and motivation. Décosterd is adept at assessing individual and organizational needs and obtaining results. Prior to founding the Lead Life Institute. and before working there she had her own consulting practice. and clinical psychology. executing. wellness. She is a graduate of the University of Hartford. teams. applied psychology. Décosterd has lived and worked in the United States and abroad. and trainer for both profit and nonprofit organizations. and self-satisfaction. implementation and execution. The Lead Life Institute is a research-based learning consultancy offering dynamic programs and services to help executives and their teams realize their potential . was a tenured university professor. strategic change leadership. Dr. Décosterd has twenty-five years of experience in organizational development. post-master’s certification in community/school psychology. a learning consultancy offering programs and services to help executives. organizational development. She has also authored the book Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact and the children’s book series titled The Adventures of Magical Max.About the Author and the Lead Life Institute Mary Lou Décosterd is founder and managing executive of the Lead Life Institute. the University of Oklahoma. Décosterd was a partner at a Chicago-headquartered international consulting firm. Dr. mediation. cultural and team alignment. influencing. master’s degrees in educational psychology. and work /life integration. Dr. and the Fielding Institute. and a doctorate in human development. and organizations become their best. She works as an executive coach to leaders and leadership teams and as a facilitator. Dr. Her work focuses around four critical success drivers: business acumen. Areas of expertise include leadership and interpersonal development. and held high-level leadership positions in the nonprofit sector.

. Recognizing the challenges. leadership development. the Lead Life Institute provides state-of-the-art approaches for business and organizational success. opportunities. The overall aim of the Lead Life Institute is to help individuals and organizations attain next-level success through sound strategic leadership and strong. women’s executive development. team excellence.166 About the Author and the Lead Life Institute and become their best. the Lead Life Institute focuses on the successful integration of leadership and life skills. as well as work /life success seminars and individual /organizational assessments. and training design and delivery in more than twenty areas of expertise. and resilience. The Lead Life Institute offers executive coaching. interpersonal power. and how the leader makes a difference. with leadership as a broad term encompassing business and professional acumen. As the name indicates. and complexities of today’s world. aligned operating cultures. how the leader favorably impacts the world. The life aspect focuses on attitude.

Dr. is a licensed clinical psychologist and is a clinical full professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. A clinical psychologist specializing in health. . PhD. MBA. the Illinois Department of Human Services state hospital serving adults in greater Chicago. He is a member of organizations including the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers International. He served as a NGO special representative to the United Nations. He was noted as being “one of the most frequently cited psychologists in the scientific literature” in a study by Hartwick College. and forensic psychology. Stout. His works have been translated into six languages. Stout is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Bruce Bonecutter. He has lectured across the nation and internationally in nineteen countries and has visited six continents and almost seventy countries. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s International Humanitarian Award. consulting. Bonecutter is also a long-time member of the American Psychological Association Taskforce on Children and the Family. and the Mental Health Association of Illinois. He was appointed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow. Stout has published or presented more than 300 papers and 30 books/manuals on various topics in psychology. PsyD. He is also a clinical assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. the Alliance for the Mentally Ill. is director of behavioral services at the Elgin Community Mental Health Center. Mr. and he has served as an invited faculty at the Annual Meeting in Davos.About the Series Editor and Advisory Board Chris E. past president of the Illinois Psychological Association. He is the founding director of the Center for Global Initiatives. and a distinguished practitioner in the National Academies of Practice.

He’s been director of undergraduate education and graduate education in the department of psychiatry at the University of Illinois. He is founding editor of the American Journal of Addictions and founding chairman of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Alcoholism. Dr. director of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. he has focused his work on psychoanalysis. Horowitz’s special interests include the study of fatherhood.168 About the Series Editor and Advisory Board Joseph Flaherty. Mr. is a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University and director of the Stone Institute of Psychiatry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. PhD. MD. Dr. A clinical psychologist practicing independently since 1987. is president and professor of clinical psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. serving as psychiatric consultant to the Navajo Area Indian Health Service at Window Rock. is chief of psychiatry at the University of Illinois Hospital. He is a member and past president of the Executive Committee for the American Academy of Psychiatrists in Alcoholism and Addictions. PhD. Dr. is chief executive officer at the Center for Behavioral Health in Indiana. Dennis P. Miller is also an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Earlier. Morrison. Arizona. and also the Falk Institute in Jerusalem. and has been a member of the board of directors for the American College of Sports Psychology. Dr. He has served as a consultant to agencies including the Ohio Department of Mental Health. MD. Public Health Service. one of the nation’s leading not-forprofit graduate schools of psychology. the North Carolina Council of Community Mental Health Centers. Oklahoma Psychological Association. He has provided disaster mental health services to the American Red Cross. Sheldon I. he served as dean and professor of the Arizona School of Professional Psychology. the National Institutes of Mental Health. the first behavioral health company ever to win the JCAHO Codman Award for excellence in the use of outcomes management to achieve health care quality improvement.S. He is a founding member of the Society for the Study of Culture and Psychiatry. Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations. intensive individual therapy. Michael Horowitz. Miller. He is president of the board of directors for the Community Healthcare Foundation in Bloomington. Miller has also been a lieutenant commander in the U. and a professor of community health science at the UIC College of Public Health. and couples therapy. a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. and director of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Flaherty has also been staff psychiatrist and chief of psychiatry at Veterans Administration West Side Hospital in Chicago. Flaherty has been a consultant to the World Health Organization. and . He is also director of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

as well as a clinical faculty member at the Austin Psychiatry Residency Program. He has served as president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. William H. Reid. He is clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. He has been cited on the Best Doctors in America listing since 1998. as chairman of the Research Section for an International Conference on the Psychiatric Aspects of Terrorism. Dr. and consultant to attorneys and courts throughout the United States.About the Series Editor and Advisory Board 169 the National Center for Heath Promotion in Michigan. is a clinical and forensic psychiatrist. . He is chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and Medical Advisor to the Texas Depressive & Manic-Depressive Association. Reid earned an Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. as well as an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology. Morrison served across 10 years as a medical service corp officer in the United States Navy. MD. Reid is also an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Texas A&M College of Medicine and Texas Tech University School of Medicine. and as medical director for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Dr.

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